Eskom plans to suspend power cuts on Thursday evening

South Africa’s struggling power utility Eskom plans to suspend rolling power cuts on Thursday evening as some of its generating units return to service, its chief executive said.

The company, which supplies almost 90% of South Africa’s electricity, on Wednesday resumed rolling power cuts, locally called load-shedding, at a “stage 2” level that require 2 000 megawatts (MW) to be shed from the national grid.

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Chief Executive Andre de Ruyter told journalists on Thursday a number of generating units that had broken down had been returned to service, and Eskom was working to fix more.

“Our intent at this point in time is that we will lift load-shedding tonight at 21:00 hours to give everybody a little bit of respite during the evening hours,” De Ruyter said.

“We will, however, resume load-shedding at “stage 1″ by 0500 tomorrow morning, which is expected to continue until 21:00 hours Friday evening,” he said, adding the suspension of power cuts was subject to more units returning to service.

Eskom has in recent week ramped up outages in response to multiple faults at its coal-fired generation fleet.

Eskom’s current leadership partly blames repeated breakdowns at its coal units on a decision by previous management to defer crucial mid-life repairs.