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South Africa: Lights Stay Out, Hope Keeps Fading

Neither the government, the Electricity Minister nor Eskom bosses seem able to tell the nation what course the nationwide blackouts will take this week.

It’s all guesswork — with Eskom suspending load shedding for a few hours on Sunday only to introduce Stage 3 in the afternoon and Stage 4 again on Monday.

This means residents and businesses should expect five to seven hours of power cuts per day this week, if no other units in Eskom’s aging fleet trip.

Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa told the nation on Sunday that all hope of ending load shedding depended on Kusile Power Station making a full recovery.

This is the latest promise from the minister, who now has a weekly routine briefing to the nation about the state of load shedding in the country.

“Kusile presents a significant path out of load shedding. We’re closer to resolving this problem but Kusile is central to addressing the load shedding question,” Ramokgopa said.

The R162-billion coal fired power plant is producing 800MW of power from one of six generating units.

Four units are not operating while the last unit — Unit 5 — is expected to be introduced to the grid for the first time in the next few months.

“We are pleased to announce that unit 4 of Kusile Power Station that was put on planned maintenance was brought back online this morning. This milestone means generating capacity will be ramped up by 800MW to the grid, resulting in the reduction of one stage of load shedding,” the minister said.

A design flaw led to the collapse of a desulphurisation chimney in one unit, taking down two other units and costing the country some 2,400MW of power.

 

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