Eskom said on Tuesday that it welcomes the return of more than 5 000 workers to the Medupi power station.
The power utility said it regards this as “a positive move that paves the way for the recovery of the past eight weeks of lost production time”.
Last Friday, the North Gauteng High Court ruled in favour of Eskom for the eviction of all people residing in all three of Eskom’s accommodation areas around the Medupi power station, as well as interdicting the return of these employees to the accommodation areas.
The National Union of Metalworkers, which had appealed the eviction order, was ordered to pay Eskom’s legal costs.
Eskom said in a statement that it undertakes to provide alternative accommodation to all evicted employees after they have been properly identified.
The power utility also said it will carry out repairs to properties damaged as a result of violence during the illegal strike. Access control to all accommodation will be restored.
“Meanwhile, Medupi Unit 6 will be progressively tested and fine-tuned until the engineers are satisfied that the systems are fully operable and reliable for final handover. This is also to ensure that the unit is safe to operate, and will perform exactly as designed for the next 50 years,” said Eskom.
During peak demand periods, testing will stop and power will be generated to alleviate pressure on the grid. Earlier this month the unit reached a new output level of 735 MW.
Upon completion, the Medupi power station will consist of six units of about 794 MW each, with a total output of 4 764 MW – about 12% of Eskom’s total installed capacity.
The power station will also become the world’s fourth largest coal-fired power plant, and the largest dry-cooled power station of its kind, according to Eskom.
No load shedding so far for Tuesday
On Tuesday morning Eskom said no load shedding was scheduled at the time as there was enough generating capacity to meet the demand.
“However, the power system is still very constrained and vulnerable, especially during the evening peak period between 17:00 to 21:00, mainly due to the increased electricity demand and generating units being out of service due to maintenance,” said Eskom.
“The electricity system remains significantly constrained for the rest of the week. This means that the risk of load shedding is very high, especially during evening peak periods. We therefore request that South Africans continue to use electricity sparingly and make this a lifestyle as we are managing a very tight system.”
Eskom called on all South Africans to pull together over the next few months and use electricity sparingly by switching off geysers and pool pumps, switching off non-essential lights, using air-conditioners efficiently by keeping room temperature at 23°C and responding to the alerts on TV each evening.
Commercial customers, particularly shopping centres and office blocks, can also make a big difference by switching off non-essential lights and not leaving office equipment such as photocopiers and computers in standby mode after hours.
Eskom said it will provide regular updates on the status of the power system through all the media platforms.