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Eskom ramps up rolling blackouts

Scheduled load shedding could take place up to three times a day.

South Africans have been warned of heavy power cuts over the next 48 hours. Picture: Free Images.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africans have been warned of heavy power cuts over the next 48 hours with Eskom declaring stage three load shedding.

The utility will save up to 4,000 megawatts today but this means scheduled load shedding could take place up to three times a day.

Stage three is the last stage of controlled blackouts and if it battles to cope thereafter, Eskom will be forced to switch off power as required.

Eskom's Andrew Etzinger says they're battling to meet demand but there is a plan, "We are in the process of building new power stations and we're working very hard to improve the performance of our existing power stations which is ultimately the problem here."

He says the country will have relief from rolling blackouts in about two weeks' time as the demand for electricity will drop during that period but warns load shedding may continue next month.

"From January we are going to be tight as business starts up again. Unfortunately that is the most likely scenario."

The power system has remained severely constrained for the past few months due to a unit outage at the Majuba Power Station in Mpumalanga as well as ongoing maintenance.

Meanwhile, the City of Johannesburg says it will now help Eskom by remotely switching off geyser control systems to certain areas at specific times to manage electricity control across the city as the power grid remains under severe strain.

City Power's Sol Masolo says, "The idea is to reduce energy consumption of those geysers to allow us to have access to more energy and consequently reduce the impact of load shedding."

Yesterday, the utility implemented stage two load shedding across the country.

This came after the country experienced a second consecutive weekend of rolling blackouts at the weekend.

The weekend blackouts were due to general upkeep measures at the Cahora-Bassa hydroelectric power station in Mozambique.

South Africa imports a portion of its electricity from the scheme.

Click here to view Eskom's load shedding schedule.

Click here for an interactive map of the load shedding schedule in Cape Town.