Eskom warns of increased load-shedding — as South Africans suffer through Stage 6

By Myles Illidge

Eskom has issued a warning for the possibility of higher stages of load-shedding due to cold weather and is urging South Africans to switch off non-essential appliances during the evenings.

This comes as the country is already in continuous stage 6 load-shedding — the highest level implemented so far this year — until further notice.

“Due to the cold weather, we appeal to all members of the public to reduce the electricity demand between 17:00 and 21:00, by switching off non-essential appliances, mainly geysers, swimming pool pumps and electric heaters,” said Eskom.

“The evening peak forecast for today is 29,609MW and yesterday’s [Tuesday, 12 September 2023] demand at evening peak was 33,423MW, higher than the forecast demand.”

“The reduction will continue to assist in alleviating pressure on the system and avoid higher stages of load-shedding,” it added.

The demand recorded on Tuesday was close to the peaks seen during the coldest nights of the winter this year.

Higher levels of load-shedding already reached

Eskom has yet to officially announce the implementation of load-shedding higher than stage 6.

According to Eskom’s own website, one stage of load-shedding is equivalent to up to 1,000MW being shed from the grid.

Stage 6, therefore, only allows for up to 6,000MW of capacity to be shed from the grid.

However, the power utility’s historic peak evening statistics revealed that it shed well over 6,000MW from the grid on multiple occasions in the past few years.

For example, on 21 February and 22 February 2023, Eskom shed demand of 7,045MW and 7,092MW, respectively.

By Eskom’s own definitions, that would technically have been stage 8.

Then-Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha acknowledged it was “accurate to say at that particular…, load-shedding was Stage 7“.

Energy analyst Chris Yelland agreed with Mantshantsha’s take, while former Eskom CEO Jacob Maroga said it was actually stage 8.

However, Eskom’s former head of generation, Thomas Conradie, denied implementing stage 7 load-shedding or higher.

More recently, National Rationalised Specifications (NRS) Association of South Africa chairman Vally Padayachee revealed that the true definition of load-shedding stages is more complicated than Eskom has let on.

He explained that one stage of load-shedding could vary between 800MW and 1,200MW being cut from the grid.

The table below shows the discrepancy between Eskom’s declared load-shedding stage and what stage of load-shedding would actually have been in effect had the utility followed its own rules.

DateLoad-sheddingReported StageDefined Stage
Thu, 1 June6,684 MWStage 6Stage 7
Fri, 2 June3,967 MWStage 4Stage 4
Sat, 3 June3,978 MWStage 4Stage 4
Sun, 4 June2,042 MWStage 2Stage 3
Mon, 5 June4,553 MWStage 4Stage 5
Tue, 6 June3,271 MWStage 3Stage 4
Wed, 7 June3,136 MWStage 3Stage 4
Thu, 8 June2,939 MWStage 3Stage 3
Fri, 9 June3,060 MWStage 3Stage 4
Sat, 10 June4,091 MWStage 4Stage 5
Sun, 11 June3,905 MWStage 4Stage 4
Mon, 12 June3,146 MWStage 3Stage 4
Tue, 13 June3,252 MWStage 3Stage 4
Wed, 14 June3,123 MWStage 3Stage 4
Thu, 15 June2,949 MWStage 3Stage 3
Fri, 16 June2,912 MWStage 3Stage 3
Sat, 17 June3,000 MWStage 3Stage 3
Sun, 18 June3,052 MWStage 3Stage 4
Mon, 19 June3,161 MWStage 3Stage 4
Tue, 20 June3,302 MWStage 3Stage 4
Wed, 21 June3,397 MWStage 3Stage 4
Thu, 22 June3,258 MWStage 3Stage 4
Fri, 23 June3,041 MWStage 3Stage 4
Sat, 24 June3,044 MWStage 3Stage 4
Sun, 25 June3,108 MWStage 3Stage 4
Mon, 26 June3,287 MWStage 3Stage 4
Tue, 27 June3,218 MWStage 3Stage 4
Wed, 28 June3,281 MWStage 3Stage 4
Thu, 29 June3,121 MWStage 3Stage 4
Fri, 30 June3,076 MWStage 3Stage 4
Sat, 1 July3,032 MWStage 3Stage 4
Sun, 2 July3,184 MWStage 3Stage 4
Mon, 3 July3,379 MWStage 3Stage 4
Tue, 4 July3,276 MWStage 3Stage 4
Wed, 5 July3,454MWStage 3Stage 4
Thu, 6 July3,369 MWStage 3Stage 4
Fri, 7 July2,795 MWStage 3Stage 3
Sat, 8 July2,708 MWStage 3Stage 3
Sun, 9 July3,054 MWStage 3Stage 4
Mon, 10 July3,771 MWStage 4Stage 4
Tue, 11 July4,082 MWStage 4Stage 5
Wed, 12 July6,432 MWStage 6Stage 7
Thu, 13 July6,929MWStage 6Stage 7
Fri, 14 July6,416 MWStage 6Stage 7
Sat, 15 July6,293 MWStage 6Stage 7
Sun, 16 July4,234 MWStage 4Stage 5
Mon, 17 July4,616 MWStage 4Stage 5
Tue, 18 July3,198 MWStage 3Stage 4
Wed, 19 July4,203 MWStage 4Stage 5
Thu, 20 July4,312 MWStage 4Stage 5
Fri, 21 July5,272 MWStage 5Stage 6
Sat, 22 July4,199 MWStage 4Stage 5