Eskom says risk remains for scheduled powercuts on Friday

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JOHANNESBURG, March 8 – State-owned electricity company Eskom said on Friday there was a possibility it might have to implement rolling power cuts to avoid straining the national grid, although the risk has not materialised so far this week.

The warning came a day after The National Energy Regulator of South Africa said it had granted the financially struggling utility — which supplies about 95 percent of the country’s electricity — annual tariff increases of 9.41 percent, 8.10 percent and 5.22 percent for 2019/20, 2020/21 and 2021/22 respectively.

Eskom has struggled to meet demand and was forced to implement rolling blackouts, known as load-shedding, for several days last month to avoid tripping the grid.

“Eskom did not implement load-shedding yesterday. This is due to some generating units returning to service,” it said on Friday.

“The power system, however, remains tight and vulnerable and while Eskom is making every effort to limit load-shedding, it could be implemented at short notice should there be a shift in plant performance. This could include a significant loss in generating plant due to unplanned technical breakdowns.”

While the tariff hikes granted on Thursday are less than what Eskom had sought, they are way above the current annual consumer inflation rate of four percent and Business Unity South Africa warned that they may undermine economic recovery efforts as electricity is a major input cost for companies.

– African News Agency (ANA)