With most parts of the country in the grips of a bitter cold front, Eskom on Thursday afternoon warned it could be forced to implement load shedding at short notice.
The power utility said in a statement the system was currently severely constrained.
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It is anticipated that towards the evening peak, the system will come under additional pressure due to the high demand for electricity as South Africans try to keep warm amid plummeting temperatures.
“Eskom would therefore like to appeal to the public to reduce the usage of electricity in order to help ease the pressure on the power system between 16:00 and 21:00.”
Breakdowns currently total 12,984MW while planned maintenance is 2,924MW of capacity.
Any further significant loss of capacity would force Eskom to implement load shedding in order to protect the integrity of the system.
The utility said it would communicate promptly should there be any significant changes to the performance of its system.
The South African Weather Service (Saws) issued a yellow level 3 warning for snow leading to possible loss of livestock and crops expected over the high lying areas of the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, southern interior of Namakwa and the southern Free State.
Gauteng can expect temperature from 10°C and lower, with a maximum of only 7°C in Johannesburg and 11°C in Pretoria forecast going into the weekend.
Kumsa Masizana, forecaster at the Saws, said the cold temperatures were going to remain low over the weekend.
“The current cold front will bring disruptive snowfall which might make it difficult for motorist travelling through the passes high-lying areas of the Western Cape and Northern Cape,” Masizana said.
She said rain was expected for the next few days over the Northern Cape, Western Cape and Eastern Cape.
“[On Thursday] we are going to start feeling the cold temperatures over the North West, Free State and Gauteng.”