Eskom reserve margin expected to be low again

Demand for power will increase significantly at this stage although it is not expecting any power cuts.

Electricity pylon. Picture: EPA/OMER SALEEM.

JOHANNESBURG - With the majority of South Africans expected to head back to work on Monday, Eskom says the electricity reserve margin is expected to be low again.

The utility says although the demand for power will increase significantly at this stage it is not expecting any power cuts.

Last year Eskom had to embark on rolling blackouts with some small companies struggling to keep their doors open.

The parastatal's Andrew Etzinger says at this stage there are enough reserves.

"The grid will be under significant pressure throughout Summer, the reserve margin will be low and we do find technical problems arise then we will be at risk of load shedding as we saw in the last two months of last year."

Industry experts have slammed Eskom for what they say is the parastatal's 'sugar coating' of the country's power situation for the year ahead.

Etzinger says the power utility used the holiday period to run tests and conduct maintenance.

"At the moment we have about 27,000 megawatts available but the reason for that comes to part two, is that we are doing a lot of maintenance which will in large part be drawing to and end over the next few days, in anticipation of Monday."

However, Energy Expert Chris Yelland says Eskom's unplanned maintenance over the December period was not very high.

"My deep concern is that the planned maintenance over this Christmas period was not very high, the unplanned maintenance was exceptionally high, double their aspiration. The aspiration was to have 10 percent unplanned outages, they had 20 percent."