Eskom: Load-shedding is the last resort

The power giant’s CEO has urged customers to save electricity to avoid more load-shedding.

 Eskom implemented load-shedding for the first time in six years on 6 March. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom says the power grid remains under pressure this weekend with relentless rain in the Gauteng Province making it difficult to build up reserves.

The power utility took urgent measures this week, declaring an emergency and implementing rolling blackouts when it realised it didn't have the capacity to keep the lights on.

Thursday's load-shedding forced several businesses to shut their doors, airports were disrupted and health facilities had to rely on generators.

This is the first time Eskom has implemented load-shedding in six years.

The parastatal moved to clarify the reasons for implementing load-shedding, saying it experienced a severe problem in providing power.

It said the situation was similar to what happened in 2008.

Eskom CEO Brian Dames has once again urged customers to switch off unnecessary appliances to avoid more load-shedding.

"For the next two months that is the case, it's all red. Any unforeseen events with the system in a red state are certainly a risk. It makes the whole system vulnerable."

He says load-shedding is the power giant's last resort.

"The procedures where we deal with critical loads in terms of the codes of practice around hospitals and airports are in place. These cannot be kept off the schedules and therefore sometimes it's necessary that they do have emergency back-up generators in place."

Eskom expects problems with power supply to continue until next month and has been called to Parliament to explain Thursday's decision to implement load-shedding.

The power utility says this week's rolling blackouts have nothing to do with it's managers or the bonuses they've received.

Meanwhile the Democratic Alliance is calling on Eskom to pay back the R31 million bonuses awarded to directors immediately, in order to buy generators for emergency services such as hospitals affected by the power cuts.

But Eskom says it doesn't have enough money to secure coal stockpiles or keep them out of the rain.

The power giant's Zola Tsotsi says, "If there are matters that are beyond the control of the management of the executives then you should not use those issues to judge their performance. The performance of executives is based on very specific things."