Power utlity Eskom says that load shedding will be eased to stage 4 on Sunday (26 February).
Blackouts will move to stage 4 from 09h00 on Sunday morning and will remain at that level until further notice. Eskom added that it would provide a full statement in due course.
However, the recent high levels of load shedding and unpredictability of Eskom’s grid has parked fears among key industries within South Africa’s business sectors, with many preparing for a total grid collapse.
While The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) stressed that it is unlikely that a regional or national grid failure could occur, higher and longer stages of load shedding have pushed industries such as the telecom, retail, mining and financial services sectors to execute scenario planning to keep staff safe and services running in the event that a total collapse would occur, reported the Suday Times.
According to the publications report, MTN has set up “war rooms” to ensure critical sites remain operational and the JSE has enough diesel to run its operations for seven days.
Mines have also installed generators to ensure mineworkers can be brought to the surface, and the Reserve Bank this week disclosed it was working with the financial sector and other industries to plan for the event of a grid collapse, said the Sunday Times.
This includes several food manufacturers and retailers, such as Tiger Brands, Pick n Pay, and Dischem, which have been forced to spend millions on backup power utilities.
Load shedding has been at stage 6 for almost an entire week – the longest stretch of such a high level since January.
However, Eskom also confirmed that over 7,000MW were removed from the grid at times, saying that load shedding hit stage 7.
Former Eskom CEO Jacob Maroga said the power utility technically implemented stage 8 load-shedding this week, as any cuts above 7,000MW are stage 8.
While businesses in South Africa still agree with the SARB’s notion that a total grid collapse is unlikely, the Bureau for Economic Research said the electricity situation in South Africa remains dire.
The National Energy Crisis Committee (Necom) announced last week that Eskom has ample diesel supplies for now – which is helping shield the country from up to two stages of load-shedding during peak hours.
Without the diesel-powered turbines, South Africa would already be at stage 8 or even up to stage 10 when you consider the power utility technically implemented stage 8 load-shedding this past week.
For people living in the major metros, load shedding schedules are available here:
For access to other load shedding schedules, Eskom has made them available on loadshedding.eskom.co.za.
Smartphone users can also download the app EskomSePush to receive push notifications when load shedding is implemented, as well as the times the area you are in will be off.