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Eskom warns of load shedding risk

The parastatal says if demand rises there is a chance of rolling blackouts.

Smoke rises from the Eskom's Medupi power plant in Limpopo after striking workers set five cars alight over travel allowance issues on 24 July 2013. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom has warned that its power grid is constrained today and there's a risk of load shedding if electricity demand rises or its generators are shut down.

The power utility has managed to keep the lights on throughout the festive season, but says businesses re-opening are placing its grid under pressure once again.

At the end of last year Eskom was forced to implement stage three load shedding after one if its coal silos at the Majuba Power Station in Mpumalanga collapsed.

Spokesman Kulu Pasiwe has appealed to business customers to conserve energy during office hours.

"The system is constrained and we are appealing to all customers to reduce their loads. If you leave the house or the office, switch off lights and air conditioners. Only put them on when you come back."

One unit will go online in mid-2015, despite missing a December deadline at the Medupi power station, Eskom confirmed on Tuesday.

Yesterday Eskom spokesperson Andrew Etzinger said construction of unit six at Medupi was complete but the parastatal was now conducting a complex cleaning procedure which was taking longer than anticipated.

Etzinger said: "We're busy with cleaning steam pipes. It isn't easy to predict how long it will take."

Etzinger expects this to take only a few more weeks and the company will then wind down maintenance operations before the start of winter when demand intensifies.