South Africans are bracing themselves for a potential full day of load shedding or more if Eskom announces Stage 16 load shedding.
While this move is aimed at preventing a total blackout, the restoration of power supply could take up to four weeks.
Vally Padayachee, chair of the National Rationalised Specifications (NRS) Association of South Africa, clarified that the inclusion of Stage 16 in the proposed new load shedding rules does not mean it will become a reality or indicate imminent grid collapse.
It is a proactive response to the current state of Eskom’s generation fleet.
Padayachee highlighted that while load shedding has been less severe recently, this respite may not last. As temperatures drop and demand increases in late July or early August, additional pressure on the electricity system is expected.
Additionally, the potential El Niño weather conditions during the upcoming summer could further strain the grid due to increased use of cooling systems.
NRS Association, consisting of representatives from municipal electricity utilities, SABS, Nersa, and Eskom, is finalizing a review of the current load shedding rules.
The proposed third version will accommodate 16 stages of load shedding, providing a nationally consistent response to system emergencies.
New version aims to offer constancy, flexibility, and a structured approach to shedding the entire load in extreme emergencies. It grants the system operator the freedom to impose load shedding at different geographic blocks or switch off all blocks simultaneously.
Load shedding must be exercised equitably, with exceptions for essential loads related to safety, environmental impact, and critical power system integrity.
NRS Association’s proposal will be presented to Nersa soon.
Nersa’s role will involve instructing licensees to implement the rules, conducting audits, considering exemption applications, and publishing lists of exempted sites. The association is awaiting Nersa’s decision on whether the proposal will be made public or published for public comment.
As Eskom continues to grapple with challenges in its generation fleet, the implementation of an updated load shedding protocol is seen as a crucial step to manage the electricity system effectively and ensure equitable distribution of power interruptions.