EDITORIAL | State mustn’t shrug at load-shedding. It must act

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EDITORIAL | State mustn’t shrug at load-shedding. It must act

Power cuts are becoming a way of life in SA. We need government’s firm commitment to stop the rot

Editorial

SA’s state-owned power supplier Eskom on Monday announced another week of rolling blackouts. Already SA was preparing for stage 2 scheduled power cuts but Eskom ramped it up to stage 4. The dead hours kicked in at 1pm on Monday and are to continue until 5am on Friday. Eskom is removing at least 4,000 megawatts (MW) from the national grid, about 10% of its total generating capacity. Its vague excuse this time? “It was anticipated that an additional seven units would have returned to service by Monday, and this has not materialised.” Its communication of what the problem is and how it will be resolved leaves much to be desired.

Eskom’s fleet is close to kaput and it has a domino effect on the entire country.

The power utility operates 15 coal-fired power stations and has total nominal capacity of about 46,000MW of power generation. According to Bloomberg, the total breakdowns amounted to 14,874MW and another 5,579MW were off grid due to planned maintenance. These numbers tell a story of a decay and despair. Because directly linked to all the numbers on lost megawatts are our growth stats, or lack thereof. Economist Mike Schussler (https://www.iol.co.za/mercury/news/experts-say-peak-night-time-load-shedding-will-hurt-economy-6465fd34-ffd2-4842-aeae-76ae674b3d89) has said one hour of scheduled power cuts — or load-shedding as Eskom calls it — costs the economy millions. Back in 2019, Dawie Roodt (https://businesstech.co.za/news/energy/306098/the-south-african-economy-could-be-10-larger-if-eskom-worked-properly-dawie-roodt/) estimated our economy would have been at least 10% larger had it not been for power cuts. It is defeatist to talk about economic recovery, as President Cyril Ramaphosa often refers to the economic reconstruction and recovery plan, when Eskom causes perpetual damage on businesses and individuals. ..

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