South Africans nearly had heart attacks on Thursday morning when the EskomSePush mobile app sent a push notification on Thursday, but for a change, they came bearing good news as they celebrated 100 days of no load shedding (no planned power cuts).

The power utility Eskom said this period of stability is attributed to its efforts in enhancing the reliability and performance of its coal generation fleet.

The last instance of such an extended suspension dates back to the covid pandemic period between July 23, 2021, and October 6, 2021. The past three years have been the worst in terms of load shedding since it started in the mid 2000s.

“Our operational efficiency continues to exceed expectations, with current unplanned outages still averaging 12,000MW, and today’s recorded at 10,839MW, well below the winter forecast,” said Eskom spokesperson, Daphne Mokwena.

She said Eskom remained committed to effectively managing electricity demand during peak times.

“Our strategic use of peaking stations, including the Open-Cycle Gas Turbines (OCGTs), has been instrumental in meeting the heightened demand, particularly during evening peaks (from 5pm to 10pm).

“Notably, our diesel consumption has stayed under the projected figures for this winter and is considerably lower than the previous year’s usage,” she said.

Mokwena said their winter forecast, which was published on April 26, 2024, anticipated a likely scenario of unplanned outages at 15,500MW and load shedding limited to Stage 2 of a possible 8 stages. She said Eskom’s outlook for winter remained at Stage 2 load shedding.

Mokwena said with the arrival of colder weather and the consequent increase in electricity demand, the power utility will be addressing the recurring challenge of network overloading in certain regions.

Mokwena said this issue is largely attributed to illegal connections, vandalism, meter tampering, unauthorised network operations, theft of network equipment, and the purchase of electricity from unlicensed vendors/sellers.

“To avert potential dangers to public safety and the risk of network overloading—which could lead to load reduction measures and extended unplanned power outages—Eskom strongly encourages customers to moderate their electricity usage during the suspension of load shedding.

“It is also imperative that customers verify their electrical connections are lawful and that they procure electricity solely from authorised vendors,” Mokwena said.

Meanwhile, business has welcomed Kgosientsho Ramokgopa’s reappointment as electricity minister in the new Government of National Unity. Ramokgopa has also been given added responsibility as the energy portfolio was also given to him.

Eskom has appeared to be functioning better since the appointment of Ramokgopa as electricity minister in March last year and that of Eskom group chief executive, Dan Marokane, who started the job in January.