Eskom downgrades loadshedding to stage 2 as imports partially restored

By Paul Burkhardt

(Bloomberg) – South Africa’s Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. reduced the intensity of rotating power cuts on Friday – the country’s ninth straight day of scheduled blackouts – after imports from Mozambique were partially restored.

South Africa’s supply from the Cahora Bassa hydroelectric system was cut about a week ago when Cyclone Idai damaged pylons in neighbouring Mozambique. The loss of imports compounded an existing shortfall in South Africa after several of Eskom’s generating units broke down.

About 890 megawatts of supply has been restored from Mozambique, said Andrew Etzinger, Eskom’s acting head of generation. The utility typically receives more than 1,000 megawatts from Cahora Bassa.

Eskom, which supplies 95% of South Africa’s power, will cut 2,000 megawatts from 9am to 11pm on Friday. That’s an improvement from the 4,000 megawatts it’s cut on other days this week. The state-owned utility is grappling with a range of operational issues from breakdowns at old coal-fired stations to defects at new ones.

The cuts, known locally as load-shedding, leave roads gridlocked across the country and stunt business productivity. Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has said it will take up to two weeks to determine how long the outages will last, warning that Eskom may need one to two years to stabilize electricity supplies.