If stage 6 load-shedding is implemented, South Africans can expect at least six hours of blackouts over a period of 24 hours.
Eskom on Tuesday announced there is a great risk stage 6 load-shedding might be implemented by 5pm on Tuesday after 10 generation units went offline overnight.
“If we are implementing stage 6 load-shedding over a period of 24 hours, that means you will expect at least six hours of load-shedding during the day. It may be split by two hours or three hours,” Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer said.
He said Eskom has only implemented stage 6 power cuts once before, in December 2019.
Some Eskom employees went on an unprotected strike last Tuesday after a deadlock in wage negotiations.
On Friday Eskom was granted a court order stopping the unprotected strike at nine power stations and facilities. Incidents of intimidation of employees and blocking of roads to power plants and facilities were reported. As a result, load-shedding was on Friday ramped up to stage 4 and Eskom said it would continue until Wednesday. However, the power utility previously warned the load-shedding stage could increase or decrease at short notice.
Oberholzer said should the protest action continue, the risk of higher stages will increase.
“We may be approaching a higher stage of load-shedding should this unlawful action continue. We will try our utmost to prevent it but there is only so much one can do. The recovery is going to take time.”
Oberholzer said the capacity loss was about 6,000MW.
“The outlook for the day is not positive — we are in an extremely difficult position,” he said.
CEO Andre de Ruyter said there was a significant deterioration in supply overnight.
“We find ourselves in stage 4 already. There is a very real risk of stage 6 load-shedding from peak tonight,” he said.
However, De Ruyter said if the utility gets more capacity back, stage 6-load-shedding could be averted.
Staff was being diverted to keep central services running.
De Ruyter said meetings with unions had been productive and they would meet again on Tuesday.
“Even if the strike is resolved, there will be a big backlog of maintenance, which means more risk of load-shedding,” he said.
SANews.gov quoted De Ruyter as saying the ongoing strike is hampering staffing at power stations.
“At Arnot [power station], we have no bargaining unit employees available and we are running with our managerial staff. At Camden similarly, our control rooms are manned by managerial staff. There has been a blocking of the access road by the dumping of coal … onto the access road. At Duvha, we have no controllers on site. At Hendrina, only 20% of workers are on site.
“We have seen peaceful protests at Kendal and Komati, where only one unit is operating. At Kriel, we have seen peaceful protesting but we have seen no resources for ash and dust handling and no plant operators. At Lethabo, we have seen pretty severe incidents of intimidation … 70 maintenance staff are absent,” De Ruyter said.
At least seven other power stations have experienced minimal to no strike-related incidents.