/ 7 July 2009

Eskom prepares for power failures

Eskom has put emergency plans in place in case several of its generators trip, it said on Tuesday but added the power supply in the country for now was stable.

The utility has been rationing electricity since early last year when the national grid nearly collapsed, forcing mines and smelters to shut for days and costing the biggest economy in Africa billions of dollars.

Spokesperson Andrew Etzinger said Eskom had put up schedules for load shedding — a term used to describe power outages — on their website, but said it had no intention of using them now.

”It is almost like an evacuation plan in the building … you don’t plan to use it, but in the event that we do, those are the plans that would be implemented,” he told Reuters.

The schedules list which areas around the country would experience power failures at what time during a week in case the utility was forced to further ration supply.

Etzinger said some seven generators, with a combined capacity of 4 000MW, would need to trip at the same time for the back-up plan to kick in.

”We don’t foresee any load shedding, but we can’t say never … for now we are fine,” he said.

Eskom, which supplies about 95% of the country’s power, plans to spend R385-billion in new capacity over five years, but the first new power plant is not expected to come on stream before 2015. – Reuters