Thousands more people need to switch off appliances during peak demand periods to help ease the national electricity load this winter, Eskom said on Tuesday.
“This winter will be different,” the power utility’s Free State general manager Lindi Mthombeni told reporters in Bloemfontein.
She said South Africa’s ageing power stations needed more maintenance, meaning units would be shut down during the coming winter.
“This will put pressure on an already tight system and we must deal with peak demands, specifically try and deal with the afternoon,” Mthombeni said.
Eskom alone could not deal with the peak demand, which was between 5pm and 9pm daily, and needed the help of its “stakeholders”.
The utility’s integrated demand management (IDM) energy saving initiative was intended to encourage another three million customers to switch off during daily peak times.
IDM spokesman Pannetjie Rossouw said South Africans had to work together to save this additional amount of electricity.
Mthombeni said citizens needed to appreciate Eskom’s position.
“Even if the new power stations come on line, it is good practice to conserve energy.”
She said the “power alerts” system on national television and radio, which were used to indicate what the country’s electricity demand was, would stay and become a way of life for South Africans.
“There is progress, but its not enough. We must increase it with the help of all citizens,” said Mthombeni.
Although the alert system was working well, people had to react more rapidly, specifically when the alert status was orange.
“We appeal to all South Africans to respond to the colours [alerts] immediately.”
Mthombeni said Eskom had various initiatives to try and improve an already tight demand and supply situation this winter.