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‘Load shedding must be tolerated for now’

Eskom's acting CEO says power outages must be ‘endured’ while maintenance on generators is carried out.

New acting Eskom CEO Brian Molefe briefing media after what he's called a robust meeting with Members of Parliament on 22 April 2015. Picture: Gaye Davis/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom's new acting CEO Brian Molefe says South Africans are justified in feeling irritated by load shedding and acknowledges the cost to the economy.

But Molefe says power outages must be 'endured' so that long stalled maintenance of generating plants can be carried out.

Briefing MPSs in Parliament Molefe insisted the power utility was not on the verge of insolvency and said that if 3,000 extra megawatts could be fed into the national grid; load shedding might be a thing of the past by the end of the year.

Stage one load shedding has come into effect and will end at 10pm this evening.

Molefe says the coming long weekends will see an 'Eskom maintenance festival' as engineers and technicians go all out to fix an ageing plant.

"The more scheduled maintenance we do the lower the breakages will be, which is why we need to take advantage of the maintenance festival over the long weekend."

Molefe says finding 3,000 extra megawatts of power will close the gap between peak demand and what's available when plants are shut down for maintenance and others break down unexpectedly.

That would mean an end to load shedding, perhaps as soon as the end of 2015.

While MPs are sceptical, for now, MPs say load shedding is crucial for long delayed maintenance to be done.

He was also insistent that Eskom's financial position is not as bad as it may seem."

Meanwhile, Eskom says South Africa's two new giant coal-fired stations, Medupi and Kusile, are expected to be completed by 2021.