SA might face rolling winter blackouts

Eskom will conduct a 120 day maintenance programme to try and ease pressure on the power grid.

Eskom Power Station.

JOHANNEBURG - Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba has warned rolling blackouts could be on the cards for South Africans this winter.

The Minister said because of the high pressure placed on the utility during this period, Eskom will be conducting a 120 day maintenance programme.

Gigaba said the utility's entire system is always under immense pressure from April until July as the demands for electricity increases during this period.

The Minister has urged residents across the country to use electricity sparingly this winter.

"This planned maintenance will result in an even more delicate power system given the number of risks that could impact Eskom's ability to manage supply and demand."

Meanwhile, Eskom CEO Brian Dames said mine strikes at several Exxaro operations has forced the utility to conduct its planned maintenance programme during the winter season.

The industrial action which ended last month affected operations at several coal mines in Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

Dames said the strike which ended last month had a major effect on power stations.

"We reduce during the day the load on those stations. To some extent it is over 1000 megawatts per day. In order to conserve coal we run the station at night and that has changed our maintenance plan."

The utility is expected to conduct the programme over 120 days during a time where the demand for electricity will be under pressure.

Dames said the utility cannot keep the lights on by itself and needs the public's help.