Eskom to end power cuts after week of disruption

Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd, the troubled South African electricity utility, said it will likely end rolling blackouts on Friday after it repaired some power plants and replenished diesel and water supplies at others.

The five days of power cuts have hindered economic activity and snarled traffic, prompting criticism of President Cyril Ramaphosa and his ministers who are battling to stabilize the state-owned company.

Eskom has R419 billion ($30 billion) in debt and is facing a backlash from labor unions who are concerned about job security after Ramaphosa said last week Eskom will be split into three units – generation, transmission and distribution.

“Eskom is not likely to implement load shedding on Friday,” the Johannesburg-based company said in an emailed statement, using a local term for planned power cuts. Still, the company said any further unexpected breakdowns could see a resumption of power rationing.

The utility, which produces more than 90 percent of the power in Africa’s most industrialized economy, has slashed supply by as much as 4,000 megawatts at times this week. That’s complicated Ramaphosa’s drive to revive an economy that stagnated during the nine-year rule of his predecessor Jacob Zuma because of rampant corruption and a lack of decisive policy making.

In the past week there have also been heavy rains in many parts of South Africa and flooding in some areas, which poses another threat to Eskom.

“Although Eskom has rain readiness plans in place to manage the risk of wet coal, the recent heavy rains could also impact coal handling and feeding to the boilers, with a potential impact on generation production,” the power utility said.

Read: R100 billion Eskom debt transfer could happen: analyst

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Eskom to end power cuts after week of disruption