Johannesburg, South Africa — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 07 January 2011 – As many as 500 major users of electricity across the South African economy may have to face mandatory power cuts if Eskom is forced to intensify its bid to plug the gap between supply and demand over the next three years.
Revealing this here, Econometrix senior economist Tony Twine said users spanning such critical sectors as mining, transport and manufacturing might be discouraged from increasing employment should these cuts be effected.
Other businesses such as ferrochrome and aluminium smelters would not be able to expand their businesses should mandatory cuts come into play, he added.
“This could lead to constraints on plans put forward by economic development minister Ebrahim Patel to use labour-intensive industries to produce jobs,” Twine said, referring to the government’s New Growth Path, which aims to create 5 million jobs over the next decade.
Eskom chief executive Brian Dames yesterday warned that South Africa could face critical shortfalls as early as March because almost a quarter of its generating capacity, including half of the Koeberg nuclear plant, was undergoing maintenance because of equipment failures.
In addition heavy rains had reduced the supply of coal to some power stations. This meant the safety margin between consumption and supply had narrowed.
Eskom would face similar problems until 2013 when the new Medupi base load plant is expected to come on line.