Johannesburg - The government will do everything in its
power to avoid power outages, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said on
"We do have long-term plans. Government remains
resolute that the country should never go through another period of painful
rotational load shedding as experienced in the past," Gigaba told
reporters in Pretoria.
"We will do everything in our power to avoid load
shedding and blackouts... The next 18 months are expected to be the tightest we
had endured thus far."
Gigaba said there would be less pressure on the power supply
when the first unit of the Medupi power station started working in December
"In this regard, Eskom is on track," he said.
The backlog of maintenance at power stations should be
eliminated by December 2013. There was a tight balance between the supply and
demand of electricity, he said.
"As we enter the winter season, residential customers
are increasing their demand, causing significant increases during the evening
peak," Gigaba said.
Eskom CEO Brian Dames said electricity demand peaked daily
between 5pm and 9pm. He said the power system would be constrained over the
next few years, particularly until the end of 2013.
"We have been quite clear that we (have) kept the
lights on, and that has taken a lot of effort," said Dames.
"We can't do this alone - we really have to do this
with all of South Africa, given the fact that the demand is increasing and we
have not invested early enough."
The poor quality of coal and maintenance are major problems
Dames said maintenance had to be done on power plants, and
older plants required a significant amount of upkeep.
"We are doing maintenance at high levels as we go into
winter, to address the backlogs and to improve the safety and reliability of
Dames said illegal connections played a big role in winter.
They overloaded the system, causing outages.
"We are making a call on all customers and communities
to make sure that we deal with the issue of illegal connections," said
The government had unveiled new and integrated
infrastructure investment strategies aimed at expanding the South African
economy during difficult global economic times, Gigaba said.
"In order to get South Africa working, growing and
moving, at the heart of these plans stand the expansion of our electricity
"(This is) in order to support economic growth as well
as the goals of job creation and economic development."
President Jacob Zuma will be taken to Medupi next week to
observe the pressure test in the plant's first boiler.