'Eskom is lying to us': Power cuts already near stage 5‚ warns energy expert

Eskom
Eskom
Image: FILE PHOTO

Despite assurances that Eskom is not planning to ramp up load-shedding‚ the embattled power utility was a hair's breath away from stage 5 blackouts on Monday.

Eskom on Tuesday denied reports that it was planning to increase load-shedding to unprecedented stage 5 and 6 levels. But energy expert Ted Bloem accused Eskom on Wednesday of "lying"‚ because‚ by its own admission‚ it had effectively entered stage 5 load-shedding territory.

"Eskom is lying to us. They said yesterday at their press briefing‚ with the minister in the room‚ that on Monday we dropped 4‚900MW. Now if you follow their definitions‚ that’s stage five.

"That’s why everybody is complaining because they have never experienced this in their lives before‚” Bloem said in an interview with eNCA.

Eskom has made provision for load-shedding at various levels. Stage 1 calls for 1‚000MW‚ stage 2 calls for 2‚000MW‚ stage 3 calls for 3‚000MW and stage 4 calls for 4‚000MW to be rotationally shed off the national electricity grid.

Eskom updated its load-shedding schedule to include stages 5 to 8 in November 2018.

"The Disaster Management Act requires Eskom to develop contingency plans for identified major incidents. A severe supply constraint is one of these‚ for which Eskom has plans in place‚” the parastatal said at the time.

Stage 5 would imply shedding 5‚000MW.

Bloem told eNCA that during the media briefing on Tuesday‚ Eskom's head of system operations said plainly‚ “we have reached 4‚900MW offline on Monday. It’s there‚ it’s clear. Everybody can hear it. And yet Eskom is denying it. They are absolute liars‚” he said.

Stage 8 load-shedding would‚ in theory‚ leave customers without power for more than 12 hours a day in Johannesburg and Pretoria‚ but Eskom said in 2018 that it was unlikely that it would ever need to implement the highest stage.

Eskom spokesperson Andrew Etzinger said on Tuesday that stage 5 and 6 were not on the cards. "No intention or requirement to go to stage 5 or 6‚" he said via e-mail.

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