'SA can avoid rolling blackouts'

To prevent the country from facing rolling blackouts this winter SA needs to save 3000 megawatts.

Medupi Power Station. Picture: Lesego Ngobeni/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - As questions continue to be raised over possible rolling blackouts this winter, Eyewitness News on Thursday established it would take over five million geysers in the country to be switched off during peak hours in order to prevent such a move in the next few months.

Eskom has asked that its customers save about 3,000 megawatts to ensure maintenance work can be carried out and the lights can stay on.

It has also warned that the system was fragile and maintenance work over the next few months will reduce generating capacity even further if customers do not reduce demand.

3,000 megawatts is the amount of power used by a city the size of Johannesburg.

It is estimated that South Africans are only saving 320 megawatts during peak hours at the moment.

Energy expert Chris Yelland said that as a result, the risk of rolling blackouts was extremely high.

"Eskom is now asking us to save 10 times the amount. This is probably not going to be achieved unless we become far more sensitive to the dangers of blackouts."

It's been five years since the last blackout schedule was implemented and the risk this year is extremely high.

Eskom maintains that South Africa can get through winter with the lights on if everyone contributes by saving power.