Eskom announced it would implement rotational electricity blackouts for the first time in about a month on Monday, citing multiple failures at its generation units.
The state electricity utility had initially said load-shedding would begin from 9pm on Monday to 5am Tuesday and be repeated from 9pm on Tuesday to 5am the next day. It shortly after brought the start forward to 5pm on Monday — saying the rolling power cuts would now be implemented continuously until early onWednesday morning — after unit 3 at its Medupi power station in Limpopo also broke down.
“This load-shedding is required for Eskom to replenish the emergency generation reserves, which have been utilised significantly since the past weekend,” the power utility said in a statement.
Eskom said breakdowns at multiple power stations — including Matla, Kendal, Matimba, Kusile, Grootvlei, Arnot and Hendrina — had forced the state-owned utility to rely “heavily” on its emergency generation reserves “to keep the lights on”.
In addition to this, units had tripped during the weekend, reducing the available generation capacity by 14 508MW, of which 6 307MW included planned maintenance.
“While we expect some generation units to return to service over the next 24 hours, Eskom appeals to all South Africans to help us limit the impact of load shedding by reducing the usage of electricity and to switch off all non-essential items,” Eskom said.
Eskom’s R392-billion debt has hampered its ability to maintain some of its ageing coal-fired power stations and fed into 14 years of load-shedding in the country, affecting the country’s growth rates.