Power utility Eskom has warned that load shedding could be a reality for the next five years, the City Press reported.
Eskom, which generates almost all of the nation’s electricity, has been locked in a dispute with workers after wage talks broke down last week over the state-owned utility’s insistence that it can’t afford pay increases.
The company began cutting power to some areas night for the first time since 2015, as demonstrators blockaded roads and attacked staff.
The protests by employees came at a tough time for Eskom and the South African economy more broadly.
While demand for electricity increases over the Southern Hemisphere winter, Eskom has also battled coal shortages, allegations of corruption and mismanagement, and struggled to raise the funding it needed earlier this year.
Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe told the City Press that the company operated half of its emergency diesel-powered peaking power plants during the strike, burning diesel worth R102 million.
He said that 18 people have been arrested during the strike for alleged intimidation and blockading the entrances at the company’s power stations.
“The risk of load shedding will always be there,” Phasiwe said, added that the risk of load shedding would remain until two new coal power stations, Medupi and Kusile, were completed over the next five years.
Risks that could see Eskom resort to power cuts would be as a result of the increased demand for power during winter, and low coal stocks at the group’s power stations.