Boys play soccer below electricity pylons in Soweto. Eskom has suspended load-shedding. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo
Boys play soccer below electricity pylons in Soweto. Eskom has suspended load-shedding. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

There is light at the end of the tunnel for the week ahead after drastic load-shedding ended and  another four Eskom units were to return to service on Sunday.

The power utility, which suspended load-shedding on Sunday following improvements in the system, on Friday said its employees were working around the clock to restore stability to operations and supply.

Five units have been restored since Friday morning, which had “positively shifted system performance” and led to suspension of load-shedding on Sunday.  

Pump storage has improved after one transmission line from the Cahora Bassa hydroelectric facility in Mozambique was restored. A second line severely damaged by Cyclone Idai will take months to fix.

On Monday Eskom will receive more diesel to burn for open cycle gas turbine usage. 

Eskom said on Sunday it did not expect any load-shedding in the coming week due to the electricity system gradually improving. 

Severe stage 4 loadshedding was launched last Monday as the utility struggled to meet electricity demand amid tube failures and breakdowns at its ageing fleet of power stations, which require maintenance. Load-shedding was eased to stage 2 by Friday.

Peter Attard-Montalto, head of Capital Markets Research at Intellidex said, "The coming week should see only low stages of load-shedding and possibly only at the end of the week." 

However, the reprieve may be short-lived. Eskom forecasts a tighter margin of 600MW in excess capacity from next week.

On Sunday the Small Business Institute (SBI)  called for the government to resolve the rolling power blackouts urgently as it was crippling small businesses.

Bernard Swanepoel, SBI’s executive director said that some members were sharing “painful stories”of the impact of load-shedding. A shisanyama owner lost R8,000 worth of meat due to lack of refrigeration during the power cuts.

Swanepoel said small enterprises were expected to account for 90% of the country employment by 2030 but they were more vulnerable than big businesses, which could afford alternative sources of energy during power cuts.

“If the situation is not resolved urgently, we are headed for a devastating winter … our economy, which has yet to recover from years of political instability, will be dealt another blow.”

Stage 2 loadshedding is estimated to have cost the economy R2bn, energy expert Chris Yelland said in a radio interview on Friday.

At a press conference on Tuesday public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan said SA faced “a huge struggle” to overcome the crisis.

Gordhan said the government would conclude investigations and report back in 10-14 days about the duration of load-shedding.