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Radio Islam International - 2019/04/05

The return to blackouts and Eskom’s precarious position poses a huge threat to the economy, but - how huge?

The fact that government has played down the effect of load shedding could detrimentally impact the country in the long run according to energy expert Ted Blom.

The utility, which blamed poor maintenance for blackouts late last year, said it’s increasingly concerned about ongoing problems at two new coal-fired power stations.

Blom told Radio Islam that government and Eskom’s plan to prevent load shedding from happening is ‘hollow’.

“Keeping the lights on, on the one hand they say they are going to keep the lights on and also increase maintenance, you can’t work on a furnace while the thing is going full blast, so I don’t understand how Eskom is going to execute that miracle.”

Blom adds that the huge Medupi and Kusile plants, already over-budget and years delayed, are also responsible for a debt crisis that has almost crippled the company.

“You can’t expect an old fleet which Eskom itself said is not maintained properly to perform at full blast.”

Blom says load shedding is implemented to protect the grid.

“If you going to compromise the grid by only implementing stage one, I won’t be surprised if we end up with a grid meltdown.”

Blom explains what a grid meltdown could potentially mean for South Africans.

“A controlled grid meltdown could mean that we will all be without power for about a month, if it’s an uncontrolled meltdown then it could be ten years or longer.”

South Africans are already familiar with the day-to-day implications of rolling blackouts, after Eskom implemented cuts in 2008, again in 2015 and this year.

Load shedding, as the outages are known locally, mean stocking up on candles, wifi disruptions and lengthy commutes on gridlocked roads through blank traffic lights.