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Loadshedding Stages Explained


What is loadshedding?

Loadshedding is the planned disconnection of loads from the national electrical grid during periods where electricity supply fails to meet the demand.


There are many reasons why supply may fail to meet demand. Some of the most common occurrences include coal supply/handling issues, generation problems such as breakdowns or scheduled maintenance of certain units, demand prediction errors, weather related issues and strike action at production facilities.


How does loadshedding occur?

The process of loadshedding begins when the national grid becomes strained. Notifications to switch of unecessary appliances and devices such as geysers, pool pumps and extra lighting are broadcasted on television stations as a means to reduce this strain.


If the grid continues to be strained, demand response and emergency demand reduction consumers (typically large users and industries) are contacted to negotiate voluntarily reduction of their loads in order to balance the grid.


If this does not help, then planned loadshedding is implemented across the country and regional distribution centers, 126 municipalities and key industrial consumers are instructed to implement loadshedding according to their schedules. This planned disconnection occurs in stages, and is dependent on the supply deficit experienced and how many megawatts need to be disconnected in order to stabilize the grid.


The table below summarizes the various stages of loadshedding, and the impact each stage has on consumers:

If loadshedding and other preventative measures do not have an effect, the national grid may experience catastrophic collapse where all consumers will be disconnected resulting in a total blackout. Depending on the cause of the emergency leading to this occurrence, it could take up to a month for the grid to recover from being unexpectedly cut off.

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