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Eskom declares ‘system emergency’

The power utility says it may have no choice but to implement load shedding tonight.

The power utility says it may have no choice but to implement load shedding tonight. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Power utility Eskom has declared an emergency and says it may have no choice but to implement load shedding plans tonight.

The parastatal says it may be forced to go ahead with cuts in parts of the country as the power grid is under pressure due to cold weather conditions.

"We've declared a system emergency," says Eskom spokesperson Andrew Etzinger.

"We are again faced with very high demand and we are expecting a record peak this evening at over 36,000MW. At this stage, we simply don't have that capacity."

But he is hoping the lights will be back on after a few hours.

"From 8pm we see a fairly rapid decline in electricity demand as many householders go to bed."

Etzinger says large industrial customers have been asked to cut demand by around 10 percent to ease the pressure.

At the same time, all consumers are being urged to reduce power usage, especially between 5pm and 9pm each night.

This is likely to further infuriate Johannesburg residents who have already been left in the dark this week.

Further power cuts are also likely to upset soccer fans hoping to watch the start of the 2014 Fifa World Cup on TV tonight.

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