Eskom grid will collapse if loadshedding ruling stands – Ramaphosa

A full bench of the high court in Pretoria recently ruled that all hospitals, clinics, schools, and police stations be exempted from loadshedding. But President Cyril Ramaphosa disagrees, saying the decision will throw the country into a total blackout.

Although the government intended to exempt critical service delivery institutions from loadshedding and this was included in the State of the Nation Address, Ramaphosa said on Thursday in Parliament that it had to be done in a more practical way that would not bring the Eskom grid to its knees.

Other opponents of the ruling like Western Cape premier Alan Winde flagged the high costs of the exemption as an obstacle. However, those in support of the intervention believed that no cost could be justified over vital services.

Ramaphosa said during a question-and-answer session in Parliament that the government believed the exemption step needed to be handled with practicality because loadshedding was intended to manage the strain on the grid.

“Because when a number of units are not available to generate energy, you could be tempted to drive those remaining units. And you could drive them to a point of breakdown. And you, therefore, need to manage it,” he said.

He said that if Eskom drove power stations to generate electricity at their maximum, then the grid could collapse. “So you, therefore, need to feed the electricity in a number of areas on a sequential basis and switch off other areas and switch other areas on until you reach a stage where all units are then able to give you that electricity we need”.

As we speak now, said Ramaphosa, the availability factor for electricity has gone down below 50%. “It is just practically, engineering-wise, not possible. And it is for this reason that government wants to shed light through this whole process on the impracticality of doing all that”.

He said the more practical approach was to do loadshedding in sequence. He said it would be ideal to exempt all those hospitals, and schools, but from an engineering point of view, it was practically impossible to do.

“So now we are faced with a court judgment and the impracticality of it all. So the process of them [the judges] approaching the court through an appeal process is to bring to bear a better understanding. So that they can be understanding of the engineering aspects and the impracticality aspects of it,” said Ramaphosa.

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