Eskom asks SA to use power sparingly

The electricity grid is severely constrained due to the loss of additional generating units.

Eskom's Megawatt Park offices in Sunninghill. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom on Tuesday said its emergency request to large businesses and the public to reduce energy consumption by at least 10 percent is due to the need for major maintenance work.

The power utility says the electricity grid is severely constrained due to the loss of additional generating units from its power stations and the extensive use of emergency reserves.

It says the request is the first of its kind and hopefully the last.

Eskom says it could not postpone maintenance to the December period as further work will take place over the holiday season.

Spokesperson Andrew Etzinger says the reduction is only temporary.

He says the utility will reassess the situation on Wednesday and will then announce whether further restrictions will be apply.

"For the next one and a half weeks, we will be vulnerable. We're working very hard to make sure that we don't get back into this situation we found ourselves in today. But at the same time, we're asking the public to assist us and use electricity very sparingly, which will certainly help the situation."

Etzinger insists Eskom is not facing any kind of meltdown, as long as it is able to carry out the maintenance rollout.

"We've taken a decision that we will not risk the grid, we will not risk a blackout that we've seen in other countries around the world and that we will manage demand."

At the same time, Etzinger says the company will do everything possible to avoid hurting the economy through limiting production in industry.

"We're really working very hard to get out of it [the situation] as soon as possible."