No load shedding planned, but ‘dark Christmas’ not ruled out

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Eskom is not planning to implement load shedding this festive season, but it cannot guarantee South Africans will not have a “dark Christmas” due to its power plants breaking down unexpectedly.

Spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said load shedding would only happen if something went severely wrong with any of the national power plants, reports the Record.

“Eskom is currently able to meet the electricity demand and has been for the past 30 days, done so without having to burn diesel. We continue to conduct maintenance to keep improving the supply,” he said.

Mantshantsha said this was attributable to the maintenance work done to improve performance.

“Eskom intends on carrying out maintenance to continue improving the performance of power stations to meet the electricity demand.”

On the impact of Covid-19, Mantshantsha said the power utility estimated negative impact on its finances.

“During the hard lockdown demand for electricity dropped significantly, which means revenue generated will also have dropped significantly for that period. Since then demand has fallen, along with the sluggish economic activity.”

However, load reduction would continue being implemented in densely populated areas in December, “until the reasons that brought it about have been eliminate”, to avoid network overloading, Mantshantsha said.

“The announcement that municipalities may generate additional capacity is most welcome, and will go a long way to easing the supply constraints the country has been going through for several years now.”

With Tshwane metro accounts up to date with Eskom, the municipality stood a chance to be part of the local government entities that could generate own electricity or appoint independent producers.

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Previously, energy expert Chris Yelland said the new government regulations that allowed municipalities such as Tshwane to generate their own electricity would provide much-needed relief to residents.

“Allowing municipalities that are in good financial standing to self-generate power will release the burden from Eskom and let such municipalities supply electricity to communities,” said Yelland.

He said this would also reduce chances of load shedding and opens the door to cheaper electricity.

“The cost of electricity is increasing all the time. These regulations will slow down such increases and in the long run see lower electricity prices.’’

Yelland said the new regulations by the Department of Energy and Resources would help stabilise the supply of electricity.

Last month, mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe said the new regulations followed a promise made by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his state of the nation address to enable municipalities to develop their own power generation projects.

Sinesipho Schrieber