UPDATE: Eskom commences stage 1 load-shedding

Eskom’s national grid pylons carrying South Africa’s electricity hum at sunset outside Koeberg nuclear power station near Melkbosstrand, 35km from Cape Town. Koeberg supplies all of the Western Cape’s power.
Eskom’s national grid pylons carrying South Africa’s electricity hum at sunset outside Koeberg nuclear power station near Melkbosstrand, 35km from Cape Town. Koeberg supplies all of the Western Cape’s power.
Image: MARK WESSELS. ©Sunday Times

Eskom has commenced with stage 1 load-shedding on Thursday evening due to the current industrial action in which some incidents of sabotage have been reported.

“Eskom commenced with Stage 1 load shedding at 17:41 today (14 June 2018). We anticipate that this will continue until 8pm tonight. Eskom is load shedding according to the published load shedding schedules‚” the electricity parastatal said.

Earlier‚ Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe tweeted: “Due to severe power constraints‚ Eskom will implement stage 1 of loadshedding from now (17:50) until 20:00. Acts of intimidation and sabotage have resulted in Eskom being unable to ensure uninterrupted power supply.”

The power utility urged South Africans to reduce the risk of load shedding by switching off geysers‚ heating‚ pool pumps‚ and all non-essential appliances on Thursday from 5pm to 8pm.

“The national power system will be constrained this evening as a result of ongoing industrial action.”

The power utility said in a statement it was working with other national structures and stakeholders to keep its power plants operational.

The president of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa‚ Andrew Chirwa‚ said Thursday’s strike at Eskom operations across the country was just a warning of what was to come.

Members of trade unions Numsa‚ the National Union of Mineworkers (Num) and Solidarity are protesting against a wage freeze.

Eskom said on Wednesday it could not guarantee security of electricity supply‚ as workers embarked on illegal industrial action and planned lunchtime pickets this week.

Wage negotiations with unions deadlocked last week leading to Numsa and Num declaring disputes. The unions are demanding wage hikes of between 9% and 15%‚ but Eskom has offered 0% citing financial constraints.

City Power warned earlier on Thursday evening that it might have to resort to load-shedding due to the “constrained” power supply.

It said the generation and distribution of electricity across Eskom’s network was constrained which might impact City Power’s capacity to supply electricity.

“Indications are that City Power may possibly activate Stage 2 load-shedding‚” it warned.

It said it would update its website with information as events unfolded.

“We urge all our customers to use electricity sparingly and to treat all installations as live to prevent unsafe incidents‚” it added.

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