January 8, 2020 / 4:50 PM / 21 days ago

S.Africa's Eskom cuts power for second night in a row

JOHANNESBURG, Jan 8 (Reuters) - South Africa’s troubled state power utility Eskom said it would have to cut power for the second consecutive night on Wednesday to allow emergency reserves to be replenished to levels that can meet daytime demand.

Eskom, which supplies 90% of South Africa’s power, has been battling to keep the lights on in the continent’s most industrialised economy despite a lull in demand over the festive period.

It had already cut power overnight on Tuesday, and said it would need to do the same again after a further loss of generation capacity meant emergency reserves had to be used during the daytime.

“In the event that we lose other generation units or are unable to bring back those that were out for maintenance, loadshedding may be implemented during the day,” it said in a statement. ‘Loadshedding’ is the term used for blackouts.

It said up to 2,000 MW would be cut from the system from 2100 to 0800 local time, adding the power system was still “constrained and vulnerable” with 13,534 MW of its 44,000 MW total nominal capacity offline due to breakdowns as of 1430 GMT.

Eskom’s woes are a major headache for President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has promised to revive sluggish growth. It is widely seen as the biggest risk to the South African economy.

Its new chief executive Andre de Ruyter started work on Monday and will oversee a government plan to split the company into separate units for generation, transmission and distribution to improve its performance.

Reporting by Emma Rumney; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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