Power Crisis

Eskom dismisses blackout scare

2008-11-13 15:41

Special Report

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Johannesburg - South African power utility Eskom on Thursday dismissed reports that the country would experience two or three week-long blackouts in January and February next year.

Eskom general manager demand side Andrew Etzinger confirmed that the hoax e-mails were not true and that South Africans could rest assured that the country's power system was in much better shape than it was a year back.

The rolling national blackouts and daily load shedding that changed South African's way of life January this year was forced by a drop in the country's reserve margin to below 5%.

Internationally it is considered good practice for power utilities to maintain at least a 20% reserve margin to ensure it has adequate supplies should in cases of emergency.

While Etzinger said South Africa's reserve margin had not improved much, now sitting at 6% of its targeted 15%, it has since April abandoned planned load shedding and lifted the moratorium on new connections.

Coal supplies at Eskom power stations, which were down to five days or less, now have an average of 35 days supply with no one station's stockpile sitting at less than 20 days.

Everyone is jittery about Eskom's ability to keep the lights on, especially going into the new year, said Etzinger.

But he said Eskom remains "reasonably comfortable" that it will make it.

- I-Net Bridge

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