Eskom warns risk of load shedding remains

Eskom says the power system is relatively stable but cautions that load shedding remains a possibility.

FILE: Eskom has been battling limited generating capacity, problems at its power stations & a shortage of diesel supplies. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom says four generators which stopped working yesterday, threatening power supply, are back online but the risk of load shedding remains.

The units went offline due to what officials say were technical problems.

Eskom's Khulu Phasiwe says two generators stopped because of unspecified technical problems, while the other two were struck by lightning.

Phasiwe says residents must contact their local power utility if their power is cut.

Eskom has also now brought on two extra generators which had been undergoing maintenance to boost capacity.

Phasiwe says, "We have managed to recover the four generating units. The power system is relatively stable, however, we would like to caution that we aren't necessarily out of the woods yet."

The utility has been battling limited generating capacity, problems at its power stations and a shortage of diesel supplies.

While Eskom remains confident the lights will stay on over Christmas, the latest threat of load shedding increases the risk of blackouts 25 December.

Phasiwe says technicians are working around the clock to prevent this.

Eskom Chief Executive Officer Tshediso Matona previously warned that rolling blackouts will be a reality for the next few months as the parastatal tries to stabilise the power system.

But on Monday, Eskom said South Africans can expect "a load shedding free" festive season.

At the same time, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was appointed to help turnaround Eskom, South African Airways and the South African Post Office.

Eskom's inability to meet demand in December, when electricity usage usually dips, underscores the precarious state of South Africa's power supply due to years of underfunding.

The utility, which supplies virtually all of South Africa's power, said last month the government's promised R20 billion cash injection wouldn't be enough to ease funding constraints and help it avoid a credit downgrade.