Money and Markets

Eskom's load reduction may hit your area - here's how it works

Business Insider SA
Load shedding
  • Since mid-May, large parts of Gauteng have been hit by "load reduction".
  • Unlike "load shedding", this is not due to a shortage of electricity in the national grid. 
  • Instead, Eskom is trying to protect its transformers from a surge in illegal electricity usage.
  • For more stories go to

Large parts of Gauteng have been hit with “load reduction” in recent weeks. But Eskom is adamant that South Africa may only suffer three days of “load shedding” this winter.

What’s the difference?

Load shedding is when South Africa does not have enough capacity to generate electricity, and the country is hit by scheduled, controlled blackouts across different areas.

Introduced in mid-May this year, load reduction is when power is switched off in neighbourhoods where illegal connections cause overload and damage infrastructure.

According to the Eskom, load reduction is meant to protect its infrastructure by reducing electricity usage during peak hours.

Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha says the increase of illegal connections in high density areas in the province and the growing number of backyard dwellings connecting to a single house are overloading neighbourhood electricity systems.

“Once the transformer is overloaded, it then explodes and that whole area will not have electricity,” said Mantshantsha.

When a transformer explodes, it cannot be fixed but can only be replaced and on average, it costs between R50,000 to R100,000 to replace it.

In the past year, Gauteng alone has lost more than R1 billion to replace damaged infrastructure caused by illegal connections.

In recent months, it has stopped replacing transformers damaged by these connections.

“[We] will not be fixing that infrastructure until we have resolved the problem that’s illegal connections, until the people agree to pay for the electricity in those areas.”

It is also now switching off power when it sees signs of illegal power use.

“Eskom has decided that whenever we notice a surge in demand in that area beyond what the network is designed for, to switch off in order to protect infrastructure, so we call that load reduction,” said Mantshantsha.  

So far, these areas in Gauteng have been hardest hit: Cosmo City, Diepsloot, Ivory Park, Orange Farm, Sebokeng, Soweto, Vaal, Katlehong and Kagiso.

In order to ease the burden on infrastructure, Eskom has decided to implement load reduction daily when the most damage occurs, from 5:00 to 9:00 and later between 17:00 and 22:00.

Residents are advised to switch off their electrical appliances to avoid a surge when electricity returns, and not to log any faults during this period.  

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