South Africa’s Eskom Extends Power Cuts as More Plants Fail


South Africa’s struggling power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. will cut electricity supplies nationwide until Friday after more breakdowns at some of its facilities.

The state-owned company said it would extend a reduction of 2,000 megawatts from the grid because of shortages caused by two plant failures. Eskom, which has faced delays in restarting two other generating units that were being serviced, said it’s been forced to ration power further after exhausting emergency reserves.

“The emergency generation reserves have been used extensively in the past days to avoid load shedding during the day,” Eskom said. “This has resulted in these being depleted, reducing available capacity.”

The so-called load shedding could intensify with an anticipated spike in demand as South Africa’s winter season sets in and supply-chain challenges mount, according to Ted Blom, an independent energy analyst. The cash-strapped utility may also not be giving an accurate picture on the existing electricity generating challenges, he said, while complaints abounded of outages lasting way beyond advertised.

Eskom spokesman Sikonathi Mantshantsha denied Eskom’s communication on the state of power supply is inaccurate.

“Eskom has consistently, factually and promptly communicated its status with regards to the supply of electricity,” Mantshantsha said via text message. “It will continue to do so. There is no need to speculate.”

The utility, which supplies 95% of South Africa’s electricity, resumed rolling blackouts May 31. Eskom is saddled with about 400 billion rand ($29 billion) of debt that is adding to the government’s challenge of attracting new investment to stoke growth in Africa’s most-industrialized economy.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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