Eskom Cuts Power in Longest South Africa Blackout Run Since 2008

South African residents and businesses braced for a 10th consecutive day of power cuts, the longest run in at least seven years, as Eskom SOC Holdings Ltd. battles to meet demand for electricity.

Managed blackouts, intended to prevent the grid from total collapse, will start at 5 p.m. Johannesburg time and probably continue for five hours, Eskom said on its Twitter account on Tuesday. The utility that supplies about 95 percent of power in Africa’s most-industrialized economy will implement so-called stage 1 load-shedding, which takes 1,000 megawatts off the grid.

“Any unexpected changes on the constrained power system could lead to a change in the stage at short notice,” Eskom said.

The cuts mark the most consecutive days of rolling blackouts since at least 2008, when Eskom shocked companies and households by declaring an national emergency and halted supply to mines, including those owned by Anglo American Plc and BHP Billiton Ltd., and paralyzed factories.

Eskom is rationing supply after decades of underinvestment in aging plants and as new facilities take longer than expected to come on stream. The cuts force businesses to close at peak times and cause traffic jams across cities, and come as temperatures are falling and autumn sets in. On average, 29 percent of installed capacity of about 42,000 megawatts has been unavailable this year because of planned maintenance and unforeseen breakdowns.

Eskom appointed Brian Molefe as its chief executive officer last week after suspending former boss Tshediso Matona after less than six months in the job. Molefe previously headed up Transnet SOC Ltd., the country’s ports and rail utility.

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