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Eskom declares power emergency to boost grid

Eskom has asked its large industrial customers to reduce their demand by 10 percent.

Power lines running to a coal power station near Johannesburg. Picture: Kim Ludbrook/EPA.

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom has declared a power emergency with industrial customers and has once again escalated load shedding to stage two this afternoon.

The utility has urged consumers to urgently reduce their electricity usage by 10 percent.

It says the system is experiencing an increase in demand due to weather conditions.

The parastatal also says there's been an increase in load losses as a result of tipping generating units at the Majuba Power Station in Mpumalanga.

On Friday, the power utility started with scheduled blackouts across the country leaving large areas in Gauteng and the western in the dark.

Eskom says load shedding is expected to be in place until at least 8 o'clock tonight.

The power utility's Andrew Etzinger says, "Unfortunately it has been necessary to escalate the load shedding to stage two according to the website load shedding schedule. Secondly, we've asked our large industrial customers to reduce demand by 10 percent and all this is needed to give the grid a boost."

'NO ROLLING BLACKOUTS THIS WEEK'

Eskom says the system is expected to be tight in the early parts of this week but no rolling blackouts are scheduled.

Large parts of Gauteng and the Western Cape have been hit by the blackouts with traffic lights out in many areas due to the outages and the rain.

On Friday, the power utility started with scheduled load shedding across the country following technical problems at its power stations.

Eskom says power cuts will continue until 8 o'clock tonight.

The utility's Tony Stott says, "A number of units will be coming back today, so these are not long term shut downs, they are for about three to five days, so a number of those units will be coming back up and that will improve the situation going into the week."

The utility says the power grid remains under severe pressure and it's also concerned about its diesel reserves which could affect electricity supply this week.

Stott says, "We're doing a little bit better but we still have a situation where we need to build up the reserves of our diesel fuel for the open cycle gas turbines and the water in dams for the pump storage schemes."

Eskom has alternative power stations which burn diesel however it says these are expensive to run and would normally only run at peak times.

The parastatal resumed stage 1 load shedding this morning.

This is the third time the utility has implemented load shedding this year.

Eskom has been experiencing problems since the collapse of a coal silo at the Majuba Power Station in Mpumalanga earlier this month.

The collapse led to rolling blackouts across the country on 2 November.

Stott said, "We recognise that there are problems with the schedules and we are doing our best to overcome that."