A Christmas without lights for SA?

Bellville. 9.12.19. Eskom introduced for the first time Stage 6 loadshedding as a result of wet coal and maintenance issues at the 37-year-old coal fired power stations. Picture Ian Landsberg

With the busiest part of the festive season, just days away, Eskom unleashed an unprecedented Stage 6 load shedding on the country on Monday.

Stage 4 was announced on Friday December 6 and later downgraded to Stage 2, with warnings that load shedding would continue into the new week. And indeed it did, with Stage 6 hitting at 6pm on Monday.

Eskom blamed the loss of generating units and “wet coal” for the power cuts. It also reported flooding at some power stations ahead of a return to Stage 4 on Monday. And it said a fault at the Medupi power plant was the reason for the escalation to Stage 6.

Stage 6 was later rolled back but Eskom has warned the public to brace for more load shedding.

Phindile Maxiti, the City’s Mayco member for energy and climate change, said it was important to use electricity sparingly and be prepared for more blackouts.

He said the City would do what it could to protect customers on the lower stages of load shedding.

“But our hands are really tied in the higher stages of load shedding. We have limited use of gas turbines which we are using to help for short periods in the lower stages of load shedding.”

Here are some of the things the City says you can do to prepare for load shedding.

* Keep your cellphone, laptop, tablet and radio fully charged when power is available so you can communicate with friends and family during load-shedding.

* Make sure your car has petrol in the tank as many petrol stations don’t pump fuel during power outages.

* Keep some cash on you as ATMs don’t work without electricity.

* Keep backup batteries for electric gates, garage doors and security systems in a good working condition. Store torches, gas lamps and candles in places where they will be easy to find in the dark.

* If you do not have a gas stove, prepare meals before the power is scheduled to go off. Boil water in your kettle and keep it in a flask for hot drinks. Use an insulating cover on teapots, pots and pans to keep drinks and meals warm.

* Most medication requiring refrigeration can be kept in a closed fridge for several hours without spoiling, but check with your doctor or pharmacist if in doubt.

* Intersections with traffic lights that are not working should be treated as four-way-stops.

* Switch off appliances, geysers, pool pumps, air conditioners, lights and other electrical equipment to reduce the risk of damage caused by power surges when the power comes back on. Sometimes City teams will have to reset substations manually to restore power to a particular area. If an outage carries on for longer than scheduled, log a call for assistance. Often, customers mistake nuisance tripping for prolonged load-shedding.

* Be energy-wise and switch off appliances you don’t need. Switch off your geyser and only switch it on for up to two hours a day. This will save a lot of electricity and it will save you money.

Delay switching on lights and appliances until after the peak periods (between 5pm and 9pm) whenever possible.

Switch off your pool pump, geyser and other large electrical equipment, and never run both at the same time.

Adjust air conditioners to 23 degrees Celsius if you need to use them.

* Visit www.SavingElectricity.org.za for more tips to save electricity and follow load-shedding developments on www.capetown.gov.za/loadshedding