Eskom says that demand in the grid dropped by a massive 6,000MW on Thursday evening, ahead of the planned 21-day coronavirus lockdown.

The power utility said that given the drop – which is expected to decline even further – it does not anticipate load shedding during the lockdown, but balanced its statement by notifying customers that planned maintenance operations would also be disrupted.

It has also started taking some generation units off the grid to protect the integrity of its systems. Unplanned outages have decreased to below the 9,500MW mark to ensure no load shedding takes place – currently at 9,116MW.

“Eskom has had to postpone the philosophy maintenance for the duration of the lockdown, as we have to keep the number of workers on site at a minimum,” it said.

“We have instead shifted the focus to carrying out short-term maintenance and other repairs in order to optimise the generating unity to meet demand after the lockdown.”

It added that the generating units taken offline can be returned to service at short notice, should the need arise.

“Eskom advises that as an essential and critical services provider, some of its personnel are exempt from the provisions of the lockdown. As such, we do not expect any impediments to the generation and supply of electricity during this period.

“Our suppliers, particularly the coal mines, logistics suppliers and those supplying the parts and maintenance services at our power stations, will be able to operate during the lockdown,” it said.

Read: No lockdown load shedding expected – but Eskom makes no promises