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 - The announcement by Eskom acting CEO Collin Matjila that South Africa's power supply remained vulnerable was of grave concern, the Democratic Alliance said on Thursday.

“The latest deadline, the fifth deadline to date, for the first unit of Medupi to come on line is only in 2015,” DA energy spokeswoman Natasha Michael said in a statement.

“Increased accountability and immediate action is necessary to ensure Eskom delivers on its mandate to provide electricity in an efficient and sustainable manner as a means to keep the lights on and power the economy.”

Earlier, Matjila said South Africa's power system would remain in peril this winter.

“The country still remains vulnerable and it will be the same during winter,” Matjila told reporters in Johannesburg.

“While we continue with maintenance as part of our strategy to have remaining capacity... we will see a reduction in the maintenance schedule.”

He said Eskom was not expecting this year's winter to be severe, and measures were being taken to ensure electricity demand was met.

“We are better prepared to assure South Africans of our ability to supply electricity,” the acting CEO said.

He urged customers to reduce electricity consumption, especially between the peak 5pm to 9pm period, through turning off unused appliances, lights, geysers, and using gas heaters.

Michael said the Independent Services and Market Operator Bill, aimed at reducing Eskom's monopoly in South Africa's energy sector, had not yet been brought to Parliament as it had been blocked by the ruling African National Congress.

She praised Eskom for announcing on Wednesday that executives were to forgo their annual bonuses this year in light of the parastatal's R255 billion projected revenue shortfall for the period 2013 to 2018.

“The DA called for the forfeiting of performance bonuses as a show of good faith in March 2014 already,” she said.

The DA did this when it was released that Eskom’s directors were awarded R31 million worth of bonuses, despite the power utility only achieving 35 of its 53 key performance indicators between 2008 and 2013.

“The new announcement, however, cannot be a temporary appeasement while the same challenges remain unresolved,” she said.