South Africa has already hit stage 8 load-shedding — former Eskom CEO

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.

Maroga was referring to Eskom’s official figures, which showed load-shedding of 7,045MW on 21 February and 7,092MW on 22 February.

On Sunday, Eskom said it would implement stage 6 load-shedding until further notice and did not update this announcement despite shedding more load.

Many energy experts, including Chris Yelland and Maroga, highlighted that Eskom increased the level of load-shedding without informing the public.

Eskom’s website explained that stage 6 load-shedding allows for up to 6,000MW of the national load to be shed.

Stage 7 allows for up to 7,000MW of the national load to be shed, and stage 8 allows for up to 8,000MW.

On 20 February 2023, Eskom shed 6,595MW of the national load, which equates to stage 7 load-shedding.

On 21 and 22 February, over 7,000MW of the national load was shed, which equates to stage 8 load-shedding.

Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha told MyBroadband that the data he publishes is for a point in the evening, which is the highest demand period.

The power utility announces the load-shedding stage up-front and is, therefore, an estimate of the electricity supply deficit.

Eskom manages the power system continuously in real-time to ensure there’s sufficient supply to always meet demand.

“This is being done by reducing the demand to match available supply at all times while maintaining a buffer reserve,” he said.

Demand may exceed the previously announced estimate, which forces Eskom to lift the level of load-shedding without announcing it.

“As you will see in the figures, it is accurate to say at that particular time last night, load-shedding was Stage 7,” he said.

Mantshantsha’s explanation makes sense, except that 7,092MW cut from the grid is stage 8 load-shedding, not stage 7.

The table below shows the official load-shedding stage over the last week, the reported evening peak load-shedding, and the actual stage based on Eskom’s definition.

DateEskom stage announcedElectricity shed (MW)Actual stage at peak
17 February 2023Stage 43,353MWStage 4
18 February 2023Stage 43,484MWStage 4
19 February 2023Stage 43,413MWStage 4
20 February 2023Stage 66,595MWStage 7
21 February 2023Stage 67,045MWStage 8
22 February 2023Stage 67,092MWStage 8
23 February 2023Stage 66,061MWStage 7
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