The Load Shedding May Never End

Struggling to decipher your area's load shedding schedule? Nobody knows what's going on, nobody knows for how long it's going to continue and nobody knows how to fix it.
Jason Snyman
2018-12-12

Eskom’s death spiral continues, and we’re back to blackouts.

In theory, load shedding is meant to be implemented equitably – meaning that there should be an even and fair rotation of power cuts to all long-suffering Eskom customers throughout the day. Two and a half hours here, two and a half hours there, and so on and so forth.

But, of course, tasked with anything even slightly more complicated than a KFC run, and the incompetent, ineffective and insufferable people over at your local municipality will simply fall to pieces.

Then we get to Eskom itself, which often has to send technicians out to manually restore power at substations when the remote links fail – as they do – and this leads to longer restoration times.

We’ve now entered Stage 2 of rotational load shedding, but mounting reports continue to state that certain areas continue to go without electricity for long stretches of time – sometimes even all day. This is due to generating units which are currently out of service due to breakdowns.
 

I must confess to you that the Department of Public Enterprises should have a handle on what's going on, but we have one energy expert so we have no capacity,” said Pravin Gordhan.

That being said, knowing how to decipher your local load shedding schedule probably isn’t going to do you much good, because they’re probably not going to be sticking to said schedule in anyway.
 

When Will It End?

Never. Rumour has it that we could be looking at years of blackouts, but Eskom has stated that load shedding will subside by March 2019. It’s only been a couple of days, and much to the irritation of all citizens and businesses, South Africa is already deep into Stage 2 of load shedding.

How these stages work is about as convoluted as the schedules themselves, but in simple terms, Eskom implements load shedding in a number of stages, the severity of which depending on how good they are at their jobs.

Currently, they’re quite terrible at their jobs.

Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, has pretty much said the same thing, stating that the reason for the current load shedding can be attributed to a lack of skills at Eskom, problems with coal supply systems and problems with the power generation system.

We’ll go ahead and add lack of foresight, wasteful spending and corruption to that, because of course our old pal Zuma and his Gupta bedfellows have to shoulder a massive part of the blame. We are now feeling the full impact of state capture.

So, not only are our power stations old and prone to falling apart thanks to a lack of adequate maintenance, due to lack of adequate funding, but Eskom has also failed to develop any of the mines near to these power stations. This means that, even if we have enough coal in reserve, it all has to be transported by road at great cost. This is money that Eskom just doesn’t have.

The State Owned Vampire is now, allegedly, thinking of asking the government for another R100 billion bailout in order to settle some of its R419 billion debt. The government is yet to receive this preposterous proposal. In the meanwhile, the option of cutting its bloated wage bill has been (naturally) rejected by the labour unions and the only other viable option Eskom may have is to hike the tariffs.

While Gordhan and company attempt to rescue South Africa from the brink of destruction, there’s no real telling how long we’ll be dealing with the current situation.

Gordhan has stated that the hope is for load shedding to cease entirely between 15 December and 15 January, due to businesses and much of the industrial sector shutting down – which will ease a lot of strain on the national grid. During that time, all senior Eskom managers have been asked to cancel their leave and have been assigned to power stations instead.
 

When we come back to work in mid-January up until the end of March we ideally want to tell the public that there will be no Stage 2 load shedding,” said Gordhan.

At the moment, with all the breakdowns and repairs going on, Eskom can only realistically supply around 26 000MW. This is according to Gordhan himself. South Africa’s power demand over the summer is 29 000MW. 

For those looking to find out about load shedding schedules and how they work, Eskom has an incredibly unhelpful page dedicated to not assisting you in any way, shape or form – which can be found HERE. Also, your local municipality probably won’t be of any actual assistance either, so feel free to check their websites out too.

Vaya con dios, live long and prosper, may the odds be ever in your favour, and don’t forget to blow out your candles before going to bed.