Eskom suspends rolling blackouts as demand drops ahead of long weekend
JOHANNESBURG, December 31 (ANA) - South African utility Eskom said on Thursday it was suspending rolling blackouts it had implemented overnight for the last two days after demand for electricity dropped ahead of the long New Year’s weekend.
Eskom, which provides the bulk of the country’s electricity, most of it coal-fired, has struggled to meet demand over the last decade, with its generating units frequently breaking down largely due to years of poor maintenance.
It has intermittently applied rotational power cuts, during which it suppresses demand, to avoid collapsing the national grid whenever it comes under pressure.
On Thursday the utility said it would use the lower demand opportunity to replenish emergency generation reserves in preparation for the higher demand expected during January as economic activity resumed after the festive season.
“During this period Eskom will also continue to pursue increased reliability maintenance as planned and previously communicated,” it said.
“While this will put pressure on the generation plant, maintenance is necessary in order to improve the reliability and performance of the power stations.”
Eskom said it currently had 9,170 megawatts on planned maintenance, while another 11,334 MW of capacity was unavailable due to unplanned maintenance. Its teams were working “around the clock” to return as many of these units to service as soon as possible.
Like several other state-owned entities, Eskom has also been dogged by financial woes for years, largely blamed on mismanagement by former executives.
In October, it reported a net loss of R20.5 billion (US$1.4 billion) in what CEO André de Ruyter called a disappointing set of results for the past financial year.
Chief financial officer Calib Cassim said it was troubling that the company was spending more on interest payments at R39 billion than on capital expenditure, which came to R24 billion.
- African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Stella Mapenzauswa