By Valentine’s Day, Eskom had really hit the skids. A third of its electricity generating infrastructure was out of service — with most of it having unexpectedly broken down, while the rest was switched off due to planned routine maintenance. It forced Eskom into using countrywide rolling blackouts to plug a 4,000MW hole, leaving it limping along with an inadequate supply of just 27,000MW to service the whole of SA. Considering that Eskom’s total capacity is meant to be 45,561MW (after billions had been spent on building two new power stations in the past decade), it was some collapse. Officially, Eskom blamed everything: machines tripping, boiler tube leaks, turbine faults, steam pipe repairs, mill issues and other generator problems. Either way, the impact was that SA was plunged into load-shedding for six straight days, starting on February 10. It shattered the illusion that, having got an almighty scare in December 2007 when load-shedding first brought the country to a standstil...

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