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Eskom confirms stage-one load shedding for today

The power utility says load shedding will start from 10:30 this morning.

FILE: South Africa will experience load shedding today. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom has announced that stage-one load shedding will commence from 10:30am today.

Earlier the utility said there was a medium to high risk of rolling blackouts, but now has confirmed it cannot meet electricity demand.

This is due to generators breaking down yesterday, while extensive maintenance work is underway.

Eskom's Andrew Etzinger says rolling blackouts are expected until about 10pm.

"At the moment we have a limited amount of capacity. Twenty-five percent of our generation fleet is currently not available due to technical problems and this has put us over the edge. So it is both the unit that tripped yesterday and a number of other ones we need to get back as soon as possible."

After a relatively good start to the year, with rolling blackouts only implemented once this month, the situation changed yesterday when two generators broke down, forcing the utility to cut supply.

The utility has warned that due to extensive maintenance work taking place, any technical issues that arise will result in more load shedding.

Meanwhile, the rand weakened against the dollar yesterday when rolling blackouts were implemented and government is yet to announce details of its rescue plan to help the cash strapped utility.

ESKOM'S BACKLOG

There are warnings that Eskom still has a major backlog of maintenance, which means stage-three load shedding will be a reality for the foreseeable future.

Yesterday, the power utility implemented stage-two load shedding, citing technical problems and a constrained grid.

Energy expert Chris Yelland says planned maintenance done during the festive season was simply not enough.

Yelland says over the festive season Eskom didn't shed enough load when the demand was low.

He says the cash-strapped utility was unable to do the necessary maintenance to prepare for the industrial year to begin.

"So the amount of extra maintenance Eskom was able to do over the Christmas period is absolutely negligible in addressing the backlog it faces. It will take several years to address this backlog."

Yelland says consumers should brace for regular stage-three blackouts as Eskom has to shed at least 5,000 megawatts on as many occasions as possible.

Take a look at EWN's feature on how to survive load shedding.

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