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S. Africa's electricity utility refutes criticism over load shedding
Last Updated: 2018-12-12 10:46 | Xinhua
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South Africa's electricity utility Eskom on Tuesday refuted criticism over frequent load shedding that has gripped the country for more than one month.

Load shedding "is implemented as a measure of last resort to protect the power system from a total collapse or blackout," Eskom said.

The energy parastatal, which provides more than 95 percent of the electricity consumed in South Africa, has been lambasted for poor management and corruption which have led to the current load shedding.

All international rating agencies have warned that Eskom is a risk to the health of South Africa's economy.

There has been allegation in the media and on social platforms recently that Eskom implements load shedding as a way of "diversion."

Former Eskom executive Matshela Koko joined in the chorus of criticism. He tweeted that there's no need for load shedding and something is horribly wrong to justify intentional outages when there is adequate generating capacity.

Such allegation "is itself a diversion and far from the truth," Eskom said.

Eskom has consistently informed the public that load shedding happens as a result of a shortage of capacity due to a number of factors, including generating units being out of service because of breakdowns, the utility said.

There have been conflicting reports surrounding the current power crisis -- ranging from state capture and a lack of coal to allegations of irregular tenders and Eskom's use of companies that are unable to provide the services Eskom so desperately needs.

The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) has urged Eskom to provide clarity with regards to the many theories, explanations and excuses provided by Eskom "during these very dark days."

Eskom has been accused of signing behind-the-door tender agreements with companies linked with the controversial Indian Gupta family which allegedly colluded with senior government officials in looting from state-owned enterprises, known as state capture.

The Gupta-linked companies are blamed for the shortage of coal which Eskom heavily relies on for power generation.

"We have experienced deterioration in plant performance over the past six months resulting in shortage of capacity to meet the demand in electricity which has forced us to implement load shedding," Eskom said in a statement.

Referring to allegations that Eskom implements load shedding while it has surplus generating capacity and a reserve margin of 23 percent, the utility said that if one takes all power stations into account there is an operational surplus and sufficient megawatts to meet demand.

"However, due to the magnitude of units on technical breakdowns, the number of megawatts to meet demand has reduced. In order to match the demand in the country load shedding has to be implemented to balance what is available and to avoid a total collapse of the power system," Eskom said.

While Eskom is currently implementing a short-term to medium-term recovery plan, its challenges can only be resolved in a partnership with government, key stakeholders, and all electricity customers, the utility said.

"We are confident that we have the capacity to address these power generation challenges. South Africans can also assist us by using electricity sparingly and reducing demand throughout the day by switching off non-essential appliances and lighting," said Eskom.

Since 2008, South Africa has suffered from power insufficiency which has led to economic losses of an estimated 300 billion rand (about 21 billion U.S. dollars). Enditem

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