Cape Town - 121022 - South African power utility Eskom has applied to more than double the price of its electricity over the next five years. The state-owned utility said it has applied for a 16 percent annual increase for five years from April 2013 to March 2018. Many South Africans are struggling with the current cost of electricity. Pictured is teacher Michael Guzana with his son Hluma Guzana. Reporter: Yolisa Tswana PICTURE: SUPPLIED

Johannesburg - A power emergency was declared on Wednesday afternoon due to severe constraints on the national power grid, Eskom said.

The power utility said in a statement that if the demand for electricity was not reduced, it may need to implement rotational power cuts.

“The constrained conditions are expected to continue tomorrow (Thursday), particularly between 5.30pm and 6.30pm.”

Eskom said it had enough generating capacity to meet daytime demand, but during the evening peak the electricity demand increased up to 36 000 megawatts.

“The increase is predominantly due to the use of space heating, geysers and cooking that takes place during this time.”

Consumers should delay using electric heaters and ensure that geysers, pool pumps and non-essential lights were switched off during the evening peak.

“Eskom will utilise all necessary emergency resources at its disposal to keep the lights on, but should the demand not decrease, load reduction will be implemented as a measure of last resort to protect the national grid from a total shutdown.”

Load-shedding schedules were available on the Eskom website for its direct customers, while municipal customers should contact their municipalities regarding the possible power cuts.

Power cuts were implemented on Tuesday evening, as well as last week Wednesday and Thursday.