File photo: Bhekikhaya Mabaso / African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town – The Western Cape Disaster Management Centre has noted that Eskom warned it would be implementing Stage 2 load shedding from 9am to 11pm today. 

South Africa last experienced load shedding in March this year. With Stage 2 load shedding, 2k000 MW of power is load shed on a rotational basis. 

The City of Cape Town said its "customers will be on Stage 1 from 10:00. Be energy wise and switch off your geyser, pool pump and aircon". 

Eskom has blamed Wednesday's power constraints on a broken coal conveyor belt at Medupi power station in Limpopo, which cut its power output by half.

In addition, five electricity generating units are unavailable due to boiler tube leaks. It also blamed outages on delays in the return to service of units that were on planned maintenance and said it is struggling with a limited diesel supply.

Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell said the province has contingency measures in place should emergencies crop up during load shedding.

“We are aware of the ongoing pressure Eskom is under, accordingly the Western Cape disaster management centre has made every effort to put contingencies in place to deal with emergency situations where they may occur during episodes of load shedding. The number to call in case of emergencies in the Western Cape is 112.”

Bredell has urged the public and businesses to reduce energy consumption as far as possible in order to assist Eskom in stabilising the system as fast as possible.

“Every little thing we turn off could make a difference in reducing demand and eliminating the need for load shedding.” 

An Eskom board member warned recently that the power utility's generation fleet was last month as low as 69%, which should be as high as 80%.

It had been predicted that the country would be vulnerable to load shedding from the end of August, when Eskom speeded up its plant  maintenance programme.

Eskom board member Nelisiwe Magubane’s – former director-general of the Department of Energy – cautioned that an acceleration in economic growth in South Africa could trigger power cuts.

Experts believed that Eskom had succeeded in avoiding load shedding for a couple of months due to a weak economy and that to manage the electricity supply efficiently, it had to ensure its plants are in good shape, regularly maintained and performing well.