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Load shedding to continue well into 2015

Eskom is again appealing to South Africans to conserve electricity.

FILE: Eskom has again appealed to South Africans to change their behaviour in how they use electricity as the risk of load shedding increases. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom has again appealed to South Africans to change their behaviour in how they use electricity as the risk of load shedding increases.

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

Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona gave an update on the state of the country's power system yesterday, painting a bleak picture.

He's admitted not enough maintenance on power plants has been done in the past, resulting in the crisis which has plunged the country into darkness.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa met with Eskom officials about the ongoing plans to help the utility deal with electricity problems, but he hasn't yet made an announcement on government interventions.

Matona however says he was impressed with what Eskom has done so far.

"When we interacted with it, I referred to it as a glorious company."

At the same time Matona admitted that the utility has not kept up to date with maintaining the power system.

"Eskom has not stayed faithful to that maintenance religion for a very long time."

This means regular load shedding is expected to take place daily for the next few months.

GOVT MUM ON ESKOM PLANS

Government is yet to make an announcement on its action plan to help Eskom financially.

Eskom is expected to run out of funds by mid-February.

Matona said government has been working with Eskom since December to develop a number of turnaround strategies.

Economists, business and industry leaders are concerned about the impact of further power outages and the sustainability of electricity in the future.

Matona has spent most of his week meeting with board members and business stakeholders regarding what can be expected in terms of electricity supply.

He has released a calendar indicating that load shedding will happen regularly during February, March and April.

Matona said it would take almost as long to fix the current state of the power system as it did for it to deteriorate.

But the head of the parastatal said he was committed to doing the right thing to ensure reliable electricity supply.

He said the utility had not been keeping up with maintenance work which led to equipment becoming unreliable.

"Eskom has not stayed faithful to that maintenance religion for a very long time and I think the unreliability of our equipment is a price that we are paying."

Matona said this short-term pain was important to ensure supply in the long-term.

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