S.Africa's energy firm Eskom to keep lights on, for now

7th March 2014, Comments 0 comments

South Africa's state-owned utility Eskom said Friday it has managed to meet electricity demand, a day after declaring a power emergency, plunging the country into darkness.

Spokesman Tony Stott said Eskom had "lifted the power emergency" and would not continue with power cuts.

"We were able to bring some units back into operation last night, and that enabled us to meet the demand for electricity," Stott told AFP.

However, Stott did not ruled out more blackouts after the weekend, saying the "system is still very tight."

"We will see on Monday morning, at six o'clock or so, if we have to declare another power emergency," he added.

Eskom, which supplies around 95 percent of the country's electricity, had blamed the blackouts on heavy rains that soaked coal stockpiles used by its power plants.

Large companies and major hospitals resorted to generators and emergency power supplies on Thursday as the first cuts kicked in.

Flights at Johannesburg's main international OR Tambo airport were delayed and high-speed train services were partially suspended.

The cuts brought memories of the 2008 power crisis which shut down mines, as Eskom struggled to meet demand.

The utility is currently building two mega coal power stations. One of the plants, Medupi, was supposed to have come on stream by the end of last year but is now running behind schedule due to labour disputes.

Eskom chief executive Brian Dames told the government news agency, SA News, that emergency conditions would remain for the rest of March and into April.

South Africa is looking to diversify into nuclear and shale gas power production, but for now remains heavily dependent on coal which provides around 90 percent of its energy.

© 2014 AFP

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