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Pressure piles on Eskom amid more load shedding concerns

Government and Eskom are under pressure to come up with an action plan to avoid further power cuts.

FILE: Eskom's Megawatt Park offices in Sunninghill. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Government and Eskom are under pressure to come up with an action plan to avoid further power cuts this year.

A number of organisations have come forward raising concerns about the impact of periodic load shedding on business and the sustainability of electricity in the future.

Eskom has indicated that unless it receives additional government funds, it will run out of money to buy diesel, which is being used to run open gas turbines, from mid-February.

These are being used extensively at the moment to make up for the shortfall in generating capacity after a coal silo collapse at the Majuba Power Station.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was appointed last year to implement a turnaround strategy for the utility but as yet there's no word on his action plan or whether government will provide funds.

Economist Azar Jammine says raising funds will be difficult.

"I think they realise how serious it is and don't know how to get out of this mess at the moment."

The power utility has invited the media to a briefing tomorrow about the current status of the power system.

ESKOM 'COPING' WITH HUGE ELECTRICITY DEMAND

Earlier, the parasatal said there's been a significant increase in electricity demand today due to the wet weather in some parts of the country.

Most businesses have also resumed operations this week after the festive break and inland schools have reopened for the year.

The utility has been battling to keep up with demand due to limited generating capacity, ageing infrastructure and several technical issues at its power stations.

Eskom's Khulu Phasiwe said the power grid is constrained but stable.

"We are experiencing huge demand on the power grid but we do have enough capacity to meet that demand. However, because we are running an old power grid, sometimes we do experience outages. If that happens, it may bring us closer to load shedding."

Meanwhile, the Public Enterprises Portfolio Committee has been granted access to visit two of Eskom's power stations.

Parliament has now allowed the committee to enter the Majuba and Lethabo Power Stations to perform an assessment.

The Democratic Alliance's Shadow Minister for Public Enterprises Natasha Michael says it's important to find out exactly what is happening at these power stations.