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Put Away the Candles (For Now): No Loadshedding Expected This Week

Eskom is optimistic about the power supply and the City of Cape Town confirms that loadshedding is suspended 

Update: 25 March 2019

"No loadshedding anticipated for the coming week due to the electricity system gradually improving." This is the message from Eskom on Sunday 24 March 2019. The power utility has confirmed that there's no loadshedding currently in South Africa. And the City of Cape Town has confirmed that loadshedding is suspended at present.

This follows a week of stage 4 loadshedding (the current highest), with Eskom saying that power plant performance, replenished fuel reserves and an increase in power imports have managed to improve South Africa's power system's performance. The risk of loadshedding still remains, though, with Eskom and the City reminding people to reduce their power usage. 

Discover what loadshedding is, find out which areas are affected, plus find out about the various stages of loadshedding, download the maps and make sure you're prepared.

SITUATION NOW: LOADSHEDDING IN CAPE TOWN

Loadshedding is currently suspended in Cape Town. However, the risk of loadshedding remains, so Eskom asks individuals and businesses to continue to use electricity sparingly.

This comes after a week of the most severe stage 4 loadshedding in mid-March, on the back of a series of recent power cuts in early February 2019. Eskom announced stage 4 loadshedding on 11 February because it had lost a further six generating units, according to news reports. Up till then, loadshedding had been suspended over Christmas. 

In early November last year, Eskom said it had a low stockpile of coal and there had been a shut down of 11 power station units for maintenance.

While some parts of the country, like Johannesburg, experienced stage 2 loadshedding, Cape Town was able to implement less-severe stage 1 because of the Steenbras hydroelectric pumped storage scheme, says Simon Maytham, the City’s media liaison officer. 

“It’s known as peak lopping,” says Maytham. It means that Cape Town opts out of buying electricity from Eskom for a certain period, and electricity is supplied from the Steenbras hydroelectric storage scheme.

The City also saves money (electricity is most expensive during peak hours) and Cape Town can keep the lights on or implement reduced loadshedding.

WHAT IS LOADSHEDDING
It’s a way to avoid a total national blackout by rotating the outages; interrupting supply to certain areas. It’s shedding the load in a systematic and controlled way. Loadshedding is implemented as an emergency for short periods of time – mostly over two hours, but sometimes for four-hour periods.

Loadshedding and local power outages are not the same thing. Local power outages can result from technical faults, such as in the case of theft of cables and an overload from electricity theft.

ESKOM ON WHAT IT IS DOING TO CORRECT THE IMBALANCE

HOW TO SURVIVE LOADSHEDDING
First, know what to expect and understand the facts. Loadshedding is scheduled power cuts, done in stages 1 to 4, with the last stage being the most severe.

Before power cuts take place, Eskom will send out loadshedding timetables to the country’s metros and municipalities. The City of Cape Town then updates these on its website and begins power cuts as per Eskom’s given schedules. The City has prepared this guide to understanding the loadshedding schedule and timetable.

LOADSHEDDING STAGES EXPLAINED
Stage 1: Requires the least amount, up to 1000MW, three times over a four-day period for two hours. Or three times over an eight-day period for four hours at a time.

Stage 2: Allows for up to 2000MW of the national load to be shed, and it doubles the frequency of stage 1. So your area will be scheduled for shedding six times over four days for two hours. Or six times over eight days for four hours.

Stage 3: When up to 3000MW is required, the frequency increases to stage 2, and it will be nine times over four days for two hours, or nine times over eight days for four hours.

Stage 4: For 4000MW to be shed, stage two is doubled. Twelve times over four days for two hours at a time, or twelve times over eight hours for four hours.

If shedding is scheduled for 6am, all affected customers should be without power within the first 30 minutes (6.30am). Each of the time blocks has an additional 30 minutes added to allow for a smooth transition to restore power in a way that will not damage the power system. When power is restored two hours (8am) later all affected customers should have electricity within the first 30 minutes after the power cut (by 8.30am).

To learn more here's information on Eskom's website.

WHAT YOU NEED TO BE PREPARED FOR LOADSHEDDING
Always have your loadshedding schedule and timetable ready to know when to expect power cuts in your area. The City keeps its loadshedding status updated.

Other practical things to do are:

  • Keep your cellphone, laptop, tablet and radio charged constantly

  • Fill your petrol tank as garages are also affected by loadshedding

  • Keep some cash on you as ATMs cannot operate without electricity

  • Have backup batteries for torches for temporary lighting, and candles and matches/lighters in handy spots

  • Prepare meals before the power is scheduled to be switched off

  • Boil water in your kettle and keep it in thermos flasks for hot drinks

  • Get insulating covers for teapots and other pots and pans to keep drinks and meals warm

 

THE CITY’S TIPS TO SAVING ENERGY

  • Switch off what you don’t need – this is the golden rule when it comes to saving electricity
  • Delay switching on lights and appliances until after the peak periods (between 5–9pm) whenever possible

  • Switch off your pool pump, geyser and other large electrical equipment

  • Adjust air conditioners

  • Retrofit your homes and businesses with energy-efficient lighting

Water is another resource that needs our attention. Too keep abreast of news of the dam levels and how to support our efforts to save water read our water feature, which we update weekly.

HOW LOADSHEDDING BEGAN
In 2008, Eskom, the national energy supplier, which makes and supplies electricity, either directly or via municipalities (the City of Cape Town buys their electricity from Eskom), announced that rolling power cuts would take place around the country as they were failing to meet demand and supply.

To prevent the whole country’s grid from crashing, scheduled power cuts would start to enable Eskom to balance and level out the flow of electricity to the millions of households and businesses around the country.

Eskom said low coal stockpiles, a short supply of diesel, water and the weather were the cause. News reports have also blamed poor management at Eskom and a lack of planning for SA’s energy needs.

So, for the next few years until 2012 (2016 by some reports), loadshedding was done routinely.

Then in the middle of June 2018, Eskom was forced to implement loadshedding once again due to strikes; “the worst industrial action in 28 years”, Fin24.com reported on August 28 of the same year.

FULLY-CHARGED ACTIVITIES THAT DON'T NEED ELECTRICITY

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