Eskom is implementing stage one power cuts on Saturday, it said.
The rolling blackouts started at 8am and would continue until 10pm.
The power utility said it had initially planned to implement stage two power cuts but some generating units that had to undergo maintenance had come back online overnight.
This meant that fewer people would be impacted by power cuts in the country at a time.
Stage one allows for up to 1000MW of the national load to be cut, stage two for up to 2000MW, and stage three for up to 4000MW.
Stage one rolling power cuts would also be implemented on Sunday.
“However, any unexpected changes on the power system could lead to a change in the load shedding stage,” Eskom said.
On Friday Eskom announced that it would be implementing stage 2 load shedding on Saturday 21 February from 08h00 until about 22h00.
The group apologized for the inconvenience, saying that it “understands the impact this will have on the retail industry in particular and on South Africa in general”.
“We assure all customers that load shedding is done as a last resort, when it is absolutely necessary to protect the power system.”
Eskom is in the process of continuing its maintenance plan to increase the reserve margin and stabilise its grid, but appealed to the public to conserve electricity.
Earlier in the week, energy department director general Wolsey Barnard warned that it will take 20 to 30 months before Eskom has caught up with maintenance and is back on the right track.
“It’s going to take time, it’s going to take in the vicinity of 20 to 30 months. But for the next couple of months, we’re going to pay severe attention to get maintenance up, get normality up in the supply,” Barnard told the Africa Energy Indada in Sandton, Johannesburg.
This was the first step in addressing energy needs in the country and would ensure a “safe” gap between supply and demand.
“Load shedding is to protect our network… to prevent blackouts. The country is not aiming at blackouts.”
According to Eskom’s load shedding forecast, the risk of rolling blackouts remains high for the forseeable future.
Eskom customers can check load shedding schedules on the website or contact our customer call centre on 0860 037 566