Blackouts as Eskom does load-shedding

The lights went out in several parts of South Africa yesterday morning when Eskom was forced to resort to load-shedding because its capacity was stretched by a surprise surge in consumption.

Power plants failed, including Koeberg nuclear power station's number one unit, at 2.18am.

"There is a national alert," said Eskom spokesman Tony Stott.

The power utility said it had embarked on an "equitable" load- shedding programme, the timetable for which will be posted on its website and will be available from its regional offices.

Load-shedding was expected to last about two hours in each area.

"We will try to do load-shedding equitably," said Stott.

Meanwhile, much of Johannesburg, particularly the western parts, extending as far as Krugersdorp, were affected by the outage.

There were also reports of wide- spread power outages in the Western and Eastern Cape.

Power failures in Cape Town began at about 8am in various areas, including Table View, Paarden Eiland and some southern suburbs.

Worcester, about 110km north of the city, was also affected.

In Eastern Cape, large areas of Port Elizabeth suffered power cuts shortly after 8am,

Many towns in northern Free State and at Reitz in the east were without power from 8am.

Large parts of the KwaZulu-Natal capital were hit by power outages.

Eskom appealed to residents to save electricity by switching off their electrical appliances when these are not in use.

Business Report last year quoted Eskom as saying that South Africa would have to spend up to R10 billion a year from 2010 on building power stations as excess electricity generation capacity ran out. - Sapa