South Africa Faces Second Day of Rolling Blackouts, Eskom Says

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(Bloomberg) — South Africa’s struggling state-owned power utility said it expects to implement a second day of controlled blackouts to prevent a total collapse of the electricity grid amid a shortage of capacity.

Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., which provides about 95% of the nation’s electricity, is still experiencing “severe generation capacity challenges,” it said in a statement late Wednesday. The cuts are “a measure of last resort,” it said.

South Africa’s rand weakened Wednesday after the utility announced that it would cut 2,000 megawatts from the grid due to unplanned breakdowns at its plants. Eskom last implemented the controlled outages it calls “loadshedding” more than six months ago.

The troubled utility, seen as the biggest threat to the economy, has amassed 450 billion rand ($30 billion) of debt and relies on state bailouts to remain solvent. It’s battled to meet demand for electricity because most of its plants are old and have been poorly maintained.

The government has said it will announce plans by the end of the month to restructure Eskom into three operating units and reorganize its debt. A master plan that will determine the country’s electricity generation mix until 2030 has been approved by the Cabinet, Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe said Wednesday.

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