Stage 2 load shedding is set to be suspended from 9pm on Thursday, Eskom has announced.
Stage 1 load shedding
Providing an update on the state of the grid during a virtual briefing on Thursday morning, Eskom CEO André de Ruyter confirmed that while stage 2 load shedding may be suspended, stage 1 would be implemented from 5am on Friday morning.
However, De Ruyter said, this depends on success in returning more units to service.
“We will lift load shedding tonight at nine o’clock to give everybody a rest during the evening hours. We will, however, resume [stage 1] load shedding by five o’clock tomorrow morning, which at this time is expected to continue until nine o’clock on Friday,” he said.
De Ruyter said Eskom would confirm at 4pm if it would go ahead with suspending load shedding.
The Eskom boss said several units had returned to service but Medupi Power Station’s unit 3 had tripped again.
“I have just been informed that Medupi 3, which had returned, has tripped and then we hope to put Tutuka 4 on to the grid later, but as you are well aware, Tutuka is not a particularly reliable station. It used to be one of our top performing stations,” he said.
De Ruyter added that another briefing would be held at 9am on Friday.
“We will communicate with the public around confirmation with lifting of stage 2 at 9pm and reinstated at five [o’clock] on Friday morning,” he said.
At this stage, planned maintenance stands at 3,910 megawatts (MW), unplanned full losses at 8,900MW, while partial losses at 4,901MW.
He further said the outlook for the weekend was quite stable, “if nothing else goes awry”.
On the incidents at Matimba Power Station in the North West, De Ruyter said Eskom had since dispatched a team to investigate the matter.
“I have difficulty in believing that this was entirely coincidental so we have dispatched an investigating team to the site. We will also be deploying additional security in order to ensure we can protect our assets.
“My fundamental point of departure has always been not attribute to malice [in] what can be explained by incompetence, but when you have three simultaneous units trip like this [rises suspicion]…
“We have no hard evidence of sabotage at this point and time but it is certainly quite coincidental that this incident has taken place right now,” he continued to say.
De Ruyter said coal supply had been restored at Lethabo Power Station in the Free State.
“It’s been quite an interesting 24 hours. A tower collapsed at Lethabo, which is our most reliable station, immediately prior to peak [demand], in such a way as to render both lines inoperable and taking out that double redundancy,” De Ruyter added.
Reacting to Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan’s comment regarding suspected sabotage at Eskom, De Ruyter said it was dangerous to speculate.
“We should avoid creating an atmosphere of paranoia. I think there is definitely significant pushback from some of the networks that has benefited extensively from criminal activity in and around Eskom, but we are tightening the screws,” he further said.
Gordhan hinted at sabotage during a parliamentary briefing on Wednesday, where he said “just as things get better”, “some people tweet things”… and “then there are problems which necessitate load shedding”.