Eskom Implements Targeted Power Reductions Amid Winter Surge

South Africa’s power utility, Eskom, has initiated load reduction measures in regions where local grids are overwhelmed by increased winter demand.

Eskom clarified that load reduction differs from load shedding, as the overall power capacity is sufficient. However, the local infrastructure, like transformers, can become overloaded, leading to failures that need to be prevented. The recent colder weather has intensified this issue.

“During winter, energy demand spikes in areas prone to electricity theft, where power is used indiscriminately, causing network failures due to extreme overloading,” Eskom explained.

Currently, about 2,111 transformers are frequently overloaded and at risk of damage, with around 900 awaiting replacement. The most affected areas include:

  • Limpopo
  • Western Cape
  • Eastern Cape
  • Gauteng
  • Mpumalanga
  • KwaZulu-Natal
  • North West

Approximately 94% of these overloaded transformers are in regions affected by electricity theft and indiscriminate power use. Despite ongoing public information campaigns, Eskom sees load reduction as necessary to protect its assets and prevent repeated failures and explosions, which also pose risks to human lives.

Monde Bala, Eskom’s Executive for Distribution, stated that load reduction is a last-resort measure and is implemented for the shortest possible periods. The City of Joburg, through City Power, has already been using load reduction for similar reasons.

“An overloaded transformer can leave an area without power for up to six months. Protecting Eskom’s assets is in the best interest of all South Africans,” Bala emphasised.

Affected customers will be informed through normal channels, including SMS and Customer Connect newsletters. Eskom stressed that electricity theft activities, such as illegal connections, equipment theft, vandalism, metre tampering, unauthorised operations, and purchasing electricity from illegal vendors, contribute to overloading.

Load reduction is particularly recorded during peak hours: 07:00–09:00 in the morning and 17:00–19:00 in the evening.

Key points about load reduction include:

  • Load reduction is not load shedding.
  • It targets high-risk areas with increased energy consumption.
  • It occurs during peak demand hours.
  • Communication with customers will be maintained.
  • Full power will be restored as soon as the risk decreases.
  • Customers should not report faults during load reduction and should treat all installations as live and dangerous.

Eskom urges customers to reduce consumption, ensure legal and paid-for electricity use, report illegal activities, and switch off non-essential appliances like heaters and geysers to help prevent load reduction and sudden power loss.

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