Eskom shuts 2 more power plants, blackout worsens in South Africa

Eskom shuts 2 more power plants, blackout worsens in South Africa

Wednesday, February 4, 2015 6:12 pm


Eskom Coal plant

Eskom Coal plant

Two more power generating units were shut down in South Africa on Wednesday due to technical faults, worsening power shortage in the country, authorities said.

This brought to seven the total number of units that have been out of service over the past few days, power utility Eskom said.

In order to avoid the total collapse of the grid, Eskom implemented stage-one load shedding Wednesday morning to balance demand and supply.

Due to the breakdown of two more units, load shedding has to be extended from stage one to stage two, Eskom said.

Eskom has three stages for load shedding. Stage one allows for up to 1,000MW of the national load to be shed once a day. If the pressure grows, stage two for up to 2,000MW or stage three for up to 4,000MW would be shed. At stage two, power goes off twice a day, while at stage three, electricity could be cut two or three times a day.

“The power system remains constrained and will remain so for the rest of this week,” Eskom said.

“Any extra load or faults in the system may necessitate the need to go into load shedding. We therefore urge all electricity customers to reduce their consumption in order to reduce the severity of load shedding.”

Constant rolling blackouts have given rise to mounting public discontent. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside Eskom’s headquarters Johannesburg on Wednesday to press demand for an end to the monopoly of electricity supply by the utility.

State-run Eskom provides about 95 percent of the electricity consumed in South Africa.

The government has repeatedly rejected calls to introduce independent power suppliers to contribute to the national grid.

To cope with power insufficiency, Eskom began to introduce “load shedding” in 2008. Power cuts have become even more regular since last November due to the collapse of Eskom’s two major power stations.

Most of Eskom’s power stations are outdated and are badly in need of maintenance.

“Load shedding” is planned rolling blackouts based on a rotating schedule in periods where short supply threatens the integrity of the grid.

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