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SA’s power system remains vulnerable

Eskom has tweeted its system is vulnerable, meaning further rolling blackouts may be necessary today.

FILE: Rolling blackouts may be necessary today. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom has this morning warned that the country's power system remains vulnerable.

Eskom has appealed to consumers to urgently switch off non-essential appliances as it prepares to implement stage-one load shedding this morning.

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

Load shedding then plunged parts of the country into darkness for a second consecutive day as Eskom implemented stage-two load shedding.

Stage-two load shedding allows the parastatal to shed up to 2,000 megawatts of electricity.

The power utility has tweeted the system is vulnerable, meaning any extra load or faults to the grid may necessitate further rolling blackouts today.

Energy expert Chris Yelland says, "They need to shed a certain amount of load. They have a certain numbers of areas to shed and therefore the greater the stage is, the greater the severity of mismatch between supply and demand and the more frequently they're going to have to shed us."

In the meantime, the utility says it will continue to carry out extensive maintenance on its aging fleet of generators.

A calendar indicating that load shedding will take place regularly during February, March and April. Picture: Eskom.

Meanwhile, there have been repeated warnings of the disastrous impact the power cuts could have on the economy.

Labour relations expert Bernard Reisner says there's legislation that can help business owners.

"Can the employer treat stoppages due to power failure as meal intervals? They can only do so for periods of 75 minutes. Can an employer restructure working hours? It is permissible in law for employees who agree to the proposal," he explains.

ESKOM'S ENERGY SAVING PROJECT

Eskom says it is assessing the results of its 'critical peak' pilot project, an initiative that promotes reduced power consumption.

The project was launched in 2013 and will run until October.

The pilot project, which is currently being run on 2,010 consumers, involves notifying users ahead of a critical peak day.

Consumers then have the option to either reduce energy consumption or pay a higher price on that day. So far, the project has reportedly shown a 25 percent decrease in energy consumption among the research group.

If successful, Eskom could introduce the initiative as a standard offer to users.

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