City has limited power during blackouts

South Africa - Cape Town- 13 february 2019 Eskom will continue with stage 3 load shedding on Wednesday between 08:00 and 23:00 as it continues to battle capacity shortages. Photographer Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

The City of Cape Town is unable to ease load shedding for Capetonians due to maintenance on its Steenbras hydro-electric power plant.

Last week, Eskom’s mismanagement was the cause of frustration and uncertainty for many businesses and households across the country after almost a week of load shedding.

When Stage 4 load shedding hit, many far south areas, such as Fish Hoek, Kalk Bay and Simon’s Town, had a double dose of power cuts, with two-and-a-half hours in the morning and two-and-a-half-hours in the evening.

Eskom claimed breakdowns had knocked out several generating units.

The utility’s spokesman Andrew Etzinger said no load shedding was anticipated for the coming week, but that could change quickly should generators fail.

In the past, the load-shedding sting has been soothed by the Steenbras hydro-electric power plant, owned and run by the City.

The plant, in operation since 1979, has upper-dam storage with water running to the lower dam through turbines coupled to generators.

The hydro-electricity generated is absorbed into the local municipal grid.

But mayoral committee member for energy and climate change, Phindile Maxiti said the City was powerless to soften the load-shedding blow because the Steenbras plant was undergoing maintenance until April/May 2019.

“Load shedding is implemented by Eskom according to its own requirements irrespective of existing planned maintenance programmes by the City,” she said.

The maintenance had been planned in advance for a time of year when electricity usage was at its lowest, she said.