Over 50% chance of a national blackout, hears Nersa.

Candle, Load Shedding

“A total grid collapse is what we don’t want to face because it will take you anything between a week and two weeks to recover, and I’m not even talking about the mayhem that will occur in the meantime.”

There is more than 50% chance South Africa will exprience a national blackout as a result of the energy grid collapsing completely, energy analyst Ted Blom told a National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) panel at a public hearing on Wednesday.

The hearing is set to discuss Eskom’s application for a 25.3% tariff increase.

“I believe that the probability of a grid meltdown is more than 50%,” said Blom.

“A total grid collapse is what we don’t want to face because it will take you anything between a week and two weeks to recover, and I’m not even talking about the mayhem that will occur in the meantime.”

Blom gave a rundown of his reasoning as follows:

“According to my estimate, the weekend or overnight demand is around about 22 GW (gigawatts)… I might be wrong by a couple of gigawatts, I am not too worried about that.

“The peak demand is 35.5 GW as we are told by Eskom – the winter demand,” he said.

“These are the numbers that only came out in the last week from the ‘war room’ … that the serviced, or what you and I know as roadworthy generator sets are roughly 40% of the fleet. Fair condition, 12% of the fleet. Poor condition, 21% of the fleet, critical condition, 26% of the fleet,” he said.

Yesterday Acting CEO Brian Molefe said the power utility had reduced its tariff request from 12.7% to 9.5% for the 2015/2016 financial year. He said the 9.5% is needed to purchase diesel for the gas turbines, while the remaining percentage will be used for the environmental levy.

The increase has been condemned by opposition parties, energy groups and the public in general. A number of organisations are expected to submit their applications in support or opposition to the increase.

Nersa will make a decision on the matter by 29 June.