First power from South Africa's Kusile due in December 2014

Reuters

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African power utility Eskom said on Wednesday the first electricity from its coal-fired Kusile power plant would hit the grid in December next year.

Eskom also said another huge coal-fired plant, Medupi, was on track to deliver its first power in the second half of next year. Medupi has been delayed for at least six months due to labour unrest and "underperformance" by contractors.

Eskom, which provides 95 percent of the power to Africa's biggest economy, has been walking a tightrope for five years as it tries to bring long-overdue power plants online after the grid came close to collapse in 2008.

The power crisis forced factories, mines and smelters to shut down for days, costing the economy billions of dollars in lost output.

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