Eskom Transmission Lines
South Africa’s state owned utility, Eskom, dismisses a resurfaced viral hoax statement warning of imminent blackouts. Pic credits: Getty Images

In South Africa, a viral statement has resurfaced implying that Eskom’s power grid could collapse and plunge the country into darkness.

Alerted to the hoax, Eskom issued a press release on Thursday dismissing the rumour as a malicious hoax aimed at creating unnecessary panic.

Eskom’s Acting Chief Executive Brian Molefe said: “The national power system has multiple layers of manual and automatic protection in place in order to prevent a national blackout from occurring.”

Free of load shedding for past week

The power system is currently stable, and there has not been any need to implement load shedding in the past seven days. Consumers are however, urged to continue using electricity efficiently in order to minimise the risk of the utility having to implement load shedding. This is particularly important as South Africa is currently experiencing extreme cold weather conditions across the country.

Molefe explained: “Load shedding is one of the mechanisms implemented by the System Operator to protect the power system. The eventuality of a blackout occurring is therefore remote.”

Viral hoax originally surfaced earlier this year

Earlier this year, the Government joined Eskom in dismissing the hoax statement that was going viral alleging that Eskom had notified Government in a special meeting that the national power grid could possibly crash and plunge South Africa into darkness for over two weeks.

In its statement issued on 9 April, the Government stated: “South Africans are assured that the country’s energy challenges are receiving priority at the highest level to resolve the situation. The message regarding Eskom is not true and is meant to create unnecessary panic. Load shedding is a controlled and planned method to ensure that the power system is protected from a total blackout.”

Government added: “Government is confident that the measures it is introducing will ensure that the country does not reach a point of a complete blackout. Government is committed to finding a long-lasting solution to address the current energy situation and urges people to refrain from spreading rumours.”

Keeping the grid stable with planned maintenance

On Tuesday this week, Eskom announced the return of 900MW back to service from Unit 1 of Koeberg Nuclear Power Station after completing a statutory three-month refueling and maintenance programme.

Molefe said: “The focus of our maintenance drive is to ensure long-term reliability and sustainability of our power generating plants. Since December last year, the availability of Eskom’s plant performance has improved from 65% to 75%.”

Molefe added: “Going forward, we plan to continue with our maintenance programme in an effort to reduce the backlog that has accumulated over the past few years. Most importantly, we plan to execute the maintenance drive without having to implement load shedding.”

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