South Africa’s newest power plants lead to latest blackouts

The latest plants built by South Africa’s financially strapped power utility experienced outages on Thursday that led to ongoing electricity cuts.

The Medupi and Kusile coal-fired stations, both unfinished and behind schedule, had units trip, Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.’s acting head of generation Andrew Etzinger said in a response to questions. Eskom said Thursday afternoon it will increase cuts to 2,000 megawatts from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. local time.

The cost of Eskom’s new Medupi and Kusile plants has ballooned to more than 300 billion rand ($20.7 billion), up from an original projection of 109.6 billion rand, and they have proved unreliable since being commissioned.

In addition to the Medupi and Kusile outages on Thursday, a unit at the Matla station in Mpumalanga also tripped — together accounting for over 2,000 megawatts.

Total outages, including the new units, accounted for 12,700 megawatts. Eskom has a total nominal capacity of about 45,000 megawatts. The utility said last year that its plant availability is only set to improve from this month.

Eskom recently revised higher its estimate of how much more it will cost to fix issues discovered at the new plants. The problems will cost at least 2 billion rand to resolve, it said in January.

Now read: Eskom starts stage 2 load-shedding

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South Africa’s newest power plants lead to latest blackouts