Johannesburg - South Africa's electricity supply is expected to remain tight in summer as Eskom - which will soon submit its next tariff application to the energy regulator - moves to do more maintenance on its plants.
"We have kept the lights on and we intend to do so in the summer months," Eskom chief executive officer Brian Dames said on Friday at a briefing on the state of the power system.
The utility does more maintenance work in the summer season due to lower demand for electricity.
"Summer places a new challenge on us. We have to make sure we deal with the backlogs," said Dames.
Currently the maintenance backlog has been reduced from 36 units to the current 20 units.
Although the lights have been kept on, challenges such as the recent weather patterns that affected KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape had crept up.
"The provision of reliable and adequate electricity is essential to support growth of the economy," Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said, adding that the parastatal aims to reduce the maintenance backlog by 2013.
South Africa's power stations were old and needed more maintenance work. Gigaba said that there has been a positive feedback from the public on calls to use electricity wisely.
There had been challenges such as a cut of power supply of about 900 megawatts from the 1 500 megawatts that Eskom imports.
On the question of Eskom's submission of its next tariff request from the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa), Dames said the utility would submit its application to the regulator soon.
"We will submit our tariff application within the next two weeks. When we submit, we will take the public through exactly what we have applied for," said Dames.
The power system is expected to remain tight until the first unit of Medupi comes on board next year.
Additionally, the power parastatal has signed up more than 1 000 megawatts of power from independent power producers, including municipal generators.
Demand for electricity for the year to date has been more than 2% lower than in the same period last year, reflecting weaker than expected economic growth and commodity market conditions.