Loadshedding enters day 5 as Eskom warns of further week-long power cuts

By Felix Njini

(Bloomberg) – South Africa’s struggling power utility warned rolling blackouts may continue throughout the week as electricity cuts extended to a fifth day.

Eskom announced it will cut 4,000 megawatts from the grid on Monday, double the initial prognosis, after losing additional generating units at its power stations. While most of the utility’s problems emanate from plant failures, it’s also facing coal-handling challenges after continuous rains and flooding at some power stations.

Eskom’s rolling power cuts are implemented to prevent a collapse of the grid and have a debilitating effect on South Africa’s economy, from slowing factory output to crippling traffic snarl-ups. Electricity shortages in the first quarter contributed to the country’s biggest economic contraction in a decade.

“There is a high probability of load-shedding until the end of the week,” Eskom said.

The state-owned company that provides about 95% of South Africa’s electricity is struggling with a R454bn ($31bn) debt burden, declining revenue and ageing plants.

The rand reversed earlier gains after Eskom announced the increased cuts, to trade 0.2% weaker at 14.6467 per dollar as of 9:59am in Johannesburg.

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