Eskom suspended load-shedding at cost of R8.5m for King Zwelithini's memorial

Memorial service of the the late King Goodwill Zwelithini.
Memorial service of the the late King Goodwill Zwelithini.
Image: Elmond Jiyane

Eskom spent R8.5m to suspend load-shedding for the memorial service of King Goodwill Zwelithini in March.

This was revealed in a written reply to parliament by public enterprise minister Pravin Gordhan who said the government considered the memorial a national interest.

The memorial service was held on March 18. At the time, Eskom was implementing rolling blackouts at level two of its load-shedding schedule across the country.

According to Gordhan, the government made a request a day before the memorial service for Eskom to consider suspending load-shedding for a duration of four hours between 10am and 2pm.

“The system operator evaluated the request and concluded that this was technically possible without putting the power system at risk and would not result in a higher stage of load-shedding either before or after the memorial service,” Gordhan said in response to a parliamentary question by the DA’s Kevin Mileham.

King Zwelithini was awarded a Special Official Funeral by President Cyril Ramaphosa who also ordered flags fly at half-mast. Though the funeral was held in private and attended by close members of the family, the public memorial service took place at the KwaKhethomthandayo Royal Palace a day after his burial.

To successfully suspend load-shedding for the duration, Eskom dispatched four additional open cycle gas turbines (OCGT) from 9.42am until 2.10pm.

“These OCGTs supplied 2 404 MWh (approximately R8.5m) during this period with a maximum output reaching 610MW,” Gordhan said.

“Furthermore, pumped storage generation was dispatched and supplied an estimated additional 2,240 MWh with a maximum additional capacity of 626MW dispatched.  Between 12:00 and 14:00, four coal-fired generators returned to service adding 1,935MW of capacity to the system, although it takes many hours to ramp these generators to their maximum capacity.”

Some of the considerations were that there would be no need to increase the stage of load-shedding from level 2 before and after the memorial as it took place in the late morning and early afternoon “when there was a reduction demand”.

Also, according to Gordhan, “load curtailment of industrial customers would not be suspended”.