When Eskom load-shedding will stop

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has laid out what is happening at Eskom and how they plan to fix problems at the state-owned entity.

Eskom has implemented stage 2 load-shedding for several days in a row in South Africa, causing massive frustration for citizens and businesses.

Gordhan spoke to the media in a press briefing today, where he stated they have taken an intensive look at what is not working at Eskom, and how these issues can be fixed.

Four points Gordhan said are important to address were:

  • Why load-shedding is taking place.
  • What are the causes of outages.
  • What are the plans to remedy it.
  • What assurances can be given to the public.

In terms of why load-shedding was taking place, Gordhan said there were several reasons: including a lack of skills at Eskom, problems with coal supply systems, and problems with the power generation system.

He added that Eskom was one of the institutions heavily affected by state capture and contracts being awarded to the Gupta family.

“Today we feel the effect of state capture, and the reality that we have very old power stations that we are operating,” said Gordhan.

Power production

Gordhan said that as it stands, Eskom has 47,000MW of installed capacity.

Planned outages, however, have cut down operations. These are put in place to let repairs take place, and come in at 7,500MW.

There have also been between 9,000MW to 11,000MW in breakdowns, in combination with the “reserve margin” which is required for safety reasons.

“In reality, we are only able to supply 26,000MW, along with unpredictable breakdowns,” he said.

South Africa’s power demand in summer is 29,000MW.

A reason for unplanned breakages – which measure up to 11,000MW – is that from about 2010, the investment in maintaining and repairing power stations was not adequate.

The reason is that not enough money was put into repairs, said Gordhan.

The quality of maintenance is also a problem, as proper repairs need to be done at all times.

Technical skills in Eskom are not there to make proper repairs, and supervision of contractors who make repairs is not done.

Gordhan added that Kusile and Medupi are meant to be providing 7,800MW into the system – and they are not.

Load-shedding

To combat load-shedding, Gordhan has insisted that a week-by-week-plan must be implemented in the coming days to instruct who will take responsibility and what are the time frames of assessing weak points in power stations.

Consequence management must also be implemented.

All senior managers at Eskom have been asked to cancel their leave and personally visit power stations to see what the state of affairs is.

Additionally, between 15 December and 15 January no load shedding is expected due to businesses shutting down.

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When Eskom load-shedding will stop