Pretoria – South Africans have been urged to use electricity sparingly to help ease the pressure off the national grid.

During an information sharing session on Wednesday, Eskom Group Executive: Sustainability, Dr Steve Lennon, said load shedding is sometimes recommended to prevent a complete blackout.

He said it is imperative to maintain a balance in the use of electricity.

“If South Africa experienced a complete blackout, it would take us two weeks to restart the system. The consequences would be severe across the entire country and in every sector,” he said.

Lennon also emphasised the importance of adhering to load shedding schedules, saying failure could result in higher electricity demand than what Eskom could provide or handle at the time.

Eskom plays a leading role in the delivery of energy to millions of South Africans.

“As the national energy provider, we have a responsibility to communicate effectively to all South Africans on supply and the impact of increasing demand,” Lennon said.

Lennon said the media will be placed on Eskom’s early-warning communication database, as it plays an important role in keeping the public informed on the pending electricity situation.

“We believe the media has a much bigger role to play in this regard as they are able to influence South Africans to embrace behaviour change by providing them with correct and timely information in respect of energy efficiency and load reduction,” Lennon said.

Municipal control centres are already registered on the database.

Medupi power station

To ease pressure on the current power stations, the new power station, Medupi, is currently under construction in Lephalale, Limpopo.

The power station will be the fourth largest coal plant in the southern hemisphere, and will be the biggest dry-cooled power station in the world.

The boiler and turbine contracts for Medupi are the largest contracts that Eskom has ever signed in its 90-year history. The planned operational life of the station is 50 years.

Cable theft

On the issue of theft, Eskom has established a Task Team consisting of municipalities, Transnet and Telkom to deal with cable theft.

Eskom and Telkom have lost millions of rands due to theft.