Making Sense of Load-shedding Stages

loadsheddingLoad-shedding is here to stay, for the foreseeable future anyway.  We can bitch and moan as much as we like, the reality is that Eskom just doesn’t have the capacity.  Yes, it’s a travesty, yes, we’re all angry and frustrated, but since we’re in it, let’s at least try to understand it. ( Okay, I can hear some of you making rude comments about Eskom not understanding themselves! )

What is Load-shedding?

Simply put, load-shedding is an interruption in the power supply when there is not enough electricity available to meet demand. NOT to be confused with “power outtages” due to “technical faults”, “cable theft”, “a sub-station fault”, “planned maintenance”, “urgent maintenance”, or the fact that Eskom has not maintained anything very well for the last several years!  Oh wait, it actually IS because Eskom has not maintained anything for the last several years.

Why aren’t we given sufficient notice?

“Load-shedding is the last resort in a number of steps taken to prevent a total grid collapse and a national blackout. Hence, it is an emergency response to an emergency, where all other measures have failed and this only becomes evident shortly before emergency load-shedding is declared. “ ~ Eskom

In layman’s terms, the reason is that Eskom uses all the money we pay them to give fat bonuses to their management on criteria unrelated to performance.  (I know this because several years ago I was commissioned to write “Performance Management” training programmes for Eskom, I wrote similar programmes for SAB.  I don’t hear SAB customers complaining!)

What do the different stages mean?

Eskom has developed a hierarchy of emergency conditions each requiring a specific load reduction stipulated below. Depending on the severity of the supply constraint, Eskom will declare a Stage 1, 2 or 3 load-shedding to prevent a national blackout.

Stage 1 –National shortage of 1000MW – Load-shedding will affect largely residential & commercial loads
Stage 2 – National shortage of 2000 MW – Load-shedding will include industrial loads
Stage 3 – National shortage of 4000 MW – Load-shedding will include all customers with the exception of certain critical resources  Stage 3 doubles the frequency of Stage 2, meaning you can be without power up to three times per day in a 24 hour cycle, 7 days a week.

The latest schedules can be found here. (Latest Load-shedding schedules)

Information was sourced from several municipal web sites, as well as Eskom’s web site, sarcastic comments and opinions are entirely my own!

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