​​S.A’s Eskom warns of increased risk of power cuts

SOUTH African state-owned power utility Eskom will implement power cuts from Wednesday until Saturday morning, Chief Executive Andre de Ruyter said, citing failures at several of its power stations, including two new plants.

Andre de Ruyter, chief executive of state-owned power utility Eskom, speaks during a media briefing in Johannesburg, South Africa, Jan. 31, 2020. REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham/File Photo

The company, which supplies almost 90% of South Africa’s electricity, said it would implement rotational power cuts, locally called load-shedding, from 2 p.m. local time (1200 GMT) on Wednesday until 5 a.m. on Saturday.

Eskom categorises the load-shedding as “Stage 2”, meaning consumers could face two to fours hours of power cuts each day.

Eskom CEO had warned that the company saw an increased risk of power cuts in a tightly balanced system, as the firm turned to scarce diesel supplies to help keep emergency turbines running.

De Ruyter said the utility was battling a total of unplanned load losses of some 14,444 megawatts (MW) or about a third of the total installed capacity in Africa’s most industrialised economy.

“It is disappointing that a new plant is not performing as it should and clearly that is indicative of the state of our new-build plants that they are not delivering as they should,” he said of the latest breakdown, a boiler leak, at the new Kusile coal-fired power station.

De Ruyter said a unit at the new Medupi coal-fired plant had also tripped, cutting out 720 MW, although the utility hoped to have it back online for the evening electricity peak.

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