March 15, 2019 / 8:35 AM / 4 months ago

Frail Eskom cuts South Africa's power for second day running

JOHANNESBURG, March 15 (Reuters) - South African state utility Eskom implemented a second day of electricity cuts on Friday, as power plant breakdowns exposed the frailty of the company and the risks to Africa’s most industrialised economy.

Eskom supplies more than 90 percent of South Africa’s power but has suffered repeated faults at its coal-fired power stations and is laden with 420 billion rand ($29 billion) of debt.

The company said it would cut 2,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity from the national grid on a rotational basis from 0600 GMT on Friday, probably until 2100 GMT.

On Thursday it cut the same amount of power, saying around 12,000 MW of its roughly 45,000 MW generating capacity was offline because of unplanned outages, including at faulty new mega plant Kusile.

Eskom’s problems are a big challenge for President Cyril Ramaphosa as they are stymieing efforts to haul the economy out of a slump before a national election in May.

Ramaphosa’s government has promised to inject 23 billion rand a year over the next three years to shore up Eskom’s finances. It has also asked a team of experts to come up with a plan to fix Eskom’s creaking coal plants. ($1 = 14.4550 rand) (Reporting by Alexander Winning; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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