Electricity pylons. Photo: THINKSTOCK
Electricity pylons. Photo: THINKSTOCK

Eskom has announced 10 hours of load-shedding on Thursday, as the embattled utility’s operations and finances continue to worsen.

SA’s largest state-owned entity announced on Thursday that stage 1 rotational load-shedding would be implemented from 12pm until 10pm, as a result of “increased generation plant being out for planned maintenance and unplanned outages”.

Stage 1 rotational load-shedding requires 1,000MW to be load shed nationwide. “Load-shedding is conducted as a measure of last resort to protect the power system from a total collapse or blackout,” Eskom said in a statement.

In a tweet on Thursday, Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said: “Besides the high unplanned outages (breakdowns), Eskom is also investigating the cause of the collapse of the power lines that carry imports from Cahora Bassa [a hydroelectric power plant] in Mozambique. As a result of the damaged lines, imports have been reduced to about 400MW, down from the usual 1,500MW.”

The load-shedding follows Wednesday's release of Eskom’s interim results, which showed a dire state of affairs both financially and operationally.

The cost of servicing its debt had doubled to R45bn for the six months ended in September, while cash from operations was less than R27bn.

Eskom said its energy availability factor — which shows how well generation plants are running —  dropped to 74.2% in October, below its target of 78%.

Ten of its 15 coal-fired power stations are facing severe coal shortages.  

Emergency open-cycle gas turbines are now in use, and Eskom said it expected to spend as much as R1bn on diesel to run the turbines and keep the lights on while getting up to date on maintenance over the next four months.

Although costly, the diesel option is seen as a better alternative to load-shedding, given load-shedding's negative effect on the SA economy.

However, Eskom has said load-shedding would remain a risk for the remainder of the year.

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said on Twitter on Thursday that the utility was also investigating the cause of the collapse of the power lines that carry imports from Cahora Bassa (a hydroelectric power plant) in Mozambique.

“As a result of the damaged lines, imports have been reduced to about 400MW, down from the usual 1500MW.”

steynl@businesslive.co.za