Eskom has confirmed that it is in the process of reviewing the current framework that governs loadshedding amid renewed concern that the State-owned utility may need to implement rotational cuts beyond the Stage 6 level that has already been declared several times this year, and possibly even beyond the eight stages catered for under the current framework.
CEO André de Ruyter offered an assurance on Monday that the utility was not expecting to have to move beyond Stage 6 loadshedding this week, despite a severely constrained system, indicating that the intensity of loadshedding should be reduced to Stage 4 by Thursday morning.
He also said that contingencies were in place to prevent a total blackout even if Eskom was forced to implement higher stages of loadshedding.
However, GM in the system operators office Isabel Fick confirmed that Eskom was in the process of reviewing the loadshedding framework, which is outlined in a National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) document.
“We are currently in the process of reviewing the document that governs loadshedding, NRS048-9, which is a Nersa document … and we are looking at the different stages of loadshedding, “ Fick confirmed during a briefing on the state of the system.
No further details were provided, but it is understood that the document proposes more stages of loadshedding than which are currently outlined, possibly even doubling the number of stages.
The new document is reportedly being canvassed with key stakeholders, but will also be released for public comment by Nersa at some point.
In the meantime Fick stressed that “contingencies” were already in place should Eskom need to move beyond Stage 8.
She also stressed that there was currently no expectation of any loadshedding declaration above Stage 6.
Eskom was also reassessing its base case for unplanned outages ahead of the release of its winter plan, owing to the fact that breakdowns have far exceeded the 13 000 MW base case assumed in the summer plan.
“We will review the performance and then adjust the baseline as necessary.
“From what we can see right now there is a possibility that the baseline will be moved up to a higher level.”
On Monday, more that 20 000 MW was unavailable as a result of full and partial load losses, as well as losses associated with coal quality or coal handling problems.