The government will do everything in its power to avoid power outages, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Friday.

“We do have long-term plans. Government remains resolute that the country should never go through another period of painful rotational load shedding as experienced in the past,” Gigaba told reporters in Pretoria.

“We will do everything in our power to avoid load shedding and blackouts... The next 18 months are expected to be the tightest we had endured thus far.”

Gigaba said there would be less pressure on the power supply when the first unit of the Medupi power station started working in December 2013.

“In this regard, Eskom is on track,” he said.

The backlog of maintenance at power stations should be eliminated by December 2013. There was a tight balance between the supply and demand of electricity, he said.

“As we enter the winter season, residential customers are increasing their demand, causing significant increases during the evening peak,” Gigaba said.

Eskom CEO Brian Dames said electricity demand peaked daily between 5pm and 9pm. - Sapa