S. Africa Power Supply-Demand Gap Tightest In at Least 15 Months

South Africa’s power capacity exceeded peak demand by the smallest amount since at least January 2012 yesterday, said Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., the utility that provides 95 percent of the country’s electricity.

Peak capacity of 33,137 megawatts was 0.8 percent, or 268 megawatts, more than demand, the Johannesburg-based company said in an e-mailed statement. That’s the narrowest difference since the utility started providing twice-weekly data in January last year. About 8,919 megawatts, or 21 percent, of its generating capacity was out for maintenance, with almost three-quarters of that being unplanned, it said. One megawatt is enough to power about 500 to 1,000 homes.

The margin is as thin as when the power cuts struck the continent’s biggest economy five years ago, pushing gold and platinum prices to records as Anglo American Plc, Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. and Harmony Gold Mining Co. halted operations for five days in January 2013.

Eskom has had to defer some maintenance that it usually does in summer months to the winter, which runs from about May to August, because of unreliable power imports from Mozambique, labor strikes at coal suppliers and a faulty unit at Africa’s only nuclear power plant.

The utility is taking nine units, or 2,000 megawatts of generation capacity, out of production because it can’t delay maintenance on the aging facilities, Chief Executive Officer Brian Dames said on April 22.

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