Eskom issues warning on power supply

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IOL pic mar19 eskom sunset pylons Independent Newspapers Eskom has urged South African consumers to reduce their electricity usage to ease the strain on the national grid. File photo: Dumisani Sibeko

Johannesburg - South Africa’s power utility Eskom said on Monday that available spare supply on its electricity network had fallen to just over one percent of total capacity due to a sharp increase in unplanned outages.

In a bi-weekly status update, Eskom said it had 31 708 MW of capacity for the Monday evening peak hours, when people return home and turn on stoves and air conditioners, against forecast demand of 31 228 MW, leaving a buffer of just under 500 MW.

The available capacity includes gas-fired emergency reserves.

The tiny difference between peak demand and available capacity brings Eskom close to the tight margins that led to rolling blackouts that hit Africa's largest economy in early 2008.

Eskom is walking a tightrope to keep power flowing to factories, mines and smelters that had to shut down for days four years ago, costing the economy billions of rand in lost output and causing a spike in the price of metals such as gold and platinum, of which South Africa is a major producer.

Unplanned outages stood at 7 227 MW on Monday.

The power utility said last week that a transformer fire had cut electricity supplies to mines, hitting production.

While there are no rolling blackouts planned for now, Eskom has asked consumers to cut demand to ease strain on the system. - Reuters

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