Power outages on top of load shedding? Businesses and farmers buying power directly from Eskom hit by penalty power


In the midst of the load shedding crisis now afflicting South Africa, thousands of farmers and businesses who buy their power directly from Eskom are now also being hit by penalty power. Sakeliga’s legal successes against Eskom to protect paying end users from power outages are widely known, specifically in the Resilient case. Eskom’s actions in this regard are illegal and should be tested against recognised principles of law. Sakeliga has already established the precedent and is going to have it reaffirmed in court.

Do you purchase your power from Eskom directly? YES/NO
Is your Eskom account paid up? YES/NO
Do you experience regular power interruptions NOT caused by loadshedding? YES/NO
Does Eskom inform you before implementing load reduction? YES/NO
Do you suffer damages caused by unannounced power disruptions? YES/NO

If your answers to these questions were YES, YES, YES, NO and YES, you are probably a victim of unlawful load reduction.

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Sakeliga believes that Eskom is trying to follow the way of least resistance by subjecting paying end users to electricity interruptions under the banner of load reduction, instead of removing illegal connections on supply lines. By doing so, Eskom is undermining the ability of its direct and paying end users – agricultural farms in particular – to run their enterprises. In addition, irreparable damage is caused to production equipment because of unplanned power interruptions, and owners are struggling to maintain security measures in already unsafe areas on their premises. 

Load reduction, not to be confused with the national load shedding programme, is a recent practice by which Eskom totally interrupts electricity supply on targeted supply lines for hours at a time. Apparently, the reason for this is to prevent overloading of the grid in high-density areas, where there are numerous illegal connections, and causing damage to grid infrastructure. 

While the Electricity Regulation Act does provide for a form of load reduction, it may never include complete interruption of electricity supply, but only an appropriate reduction of the load. Furthermore, users must appropriately be notified in advance. Eskom has been acting illegally by completely interrupting electricity supply on targeted lines and in many instances failing to give reasonable notice in advance.

Eskom has been arguing for months that load reduction is an interim measure until such time as an audit can be done on identified supply lines with a view to reducing grid losses to an acceptable level. These audits apparently are not being performed, and Eskom is unlikely to cease load reduction in the near future.