Eskom board chairperson Jabu Mabuza said the power utility would implement stage one load shedding on Friday from 9am and will end at 11pm. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - Eskom board chairperson Jabu Mabuza said the power utility would implement stage one load shedding on Friday from 9am and will end at 11pm. 

Mabuza also added that the company did not foresee the need for further power cuts thereafter.

Mabuza was briefing the media on Thursday night on the state of Eskom after it implemented load shedding on Wednesday.

Mabuza said the cuts were needed to avoid a collapse of the power grid.

"Unfortunately, this is what has now materialised in the last few days. Against high levels of consumption, we experienced high levels of unplanned breakdowns that exceeded the 10 500-megawatt limit and resulted in the excessive utilisation of our emergency water and diesel reserves."

The country was hit by power cuts for a second day on Thursday as state utility Eskom said a number of generating units were still out of service and some would not be back up and running for a few days.

On Wednesday Eskom was forced to impose first power cuts for the first time in around seven months, highlighting the challenge facing President Cyril Ramaphosa in rescuing the state company, which has been beset by financial and technical problems, and putting further pressure on the economy.

Eskom said it would cut 2 000 megawatts (MW) of power from 9 am (0700 GMT) until 11 p.m. (2100 GMT) on Thursday on a rotational basis across the country.

"Contingency measures have been put in place to manually feed coal to Medupi (power plant) whilst we look into a permanent solution to the coal conveyor belt failure at the station," Eskom said.

"We have started receiving additional diesel supplies from the major oil service providers and as such we are comfortable that we can build the necessary diesel and water reserves to acceptable levels over the weekend."

Late on Wednesday Eskom said some generating units have already returned to service and it expects more units to return to service over the next few days.

In South Africa, the resumption of power cuts pose another risk to the already weak economy. Eskom produces more than 90% of South Africa's electricity but has been hobbled by technical faults at its fleet of mainly coal-fired power stations.

It is also grappling with a debt pile which stood at around 440 billion rand ($31 billion) as of March.

Ramaphosa has pledged 59 billion rand of support for Eskom over the next two years, on top of 230 billion rand in bailouts spread over the next 10 years. Officials say its operational losses mean Eskom will also have to take other measures to make it financially sustainable.

IOL and Reuters