Eskom announced at about 16:20 on Tuesday that it has upgraded its load shedding to Stage 3, which means the amount by which consumers have to reduce electricity demand has doubled.
Some consumers will now be hit by load shedding twice on the same day.
During Stage 2 load shedding – implemented since 6:00 on Tuesday – electricity consumption has to be reduced by 2 000 MW. During Stage 3 it increases to 4 000 MW.
This comes as more than 14 000 MW of generation capacity was unavailable on Monday, comprising 5 364 MW of capacity taken offline for planned maintenance and 8 717 MW being unavailable due to unexpected breakdowns.
The amount of unavailable capacity in the first quarter of 2015 was at an average of 12 149 MW (28.85%), up from 9 346 MW (22.2% in 2014.
Reuters reported that unplanned outages increased to 9 500 MW on Tuesday, forcing the increased load shedding.
“At this stage it is not clear how long it will take to fix the problem,” Eskom spokesman Khulu Phasiwe told Reuters.
According to the utility’s system status bulletin issued on Monday night, the outlook for the rest of the week is also bleak, with forecast demand outstripping supply every day until Sunday.