South Africans should never feel Eskom’s existence — chair

Eskom board chair Mteto Nyati has said on Twitter that South Africans should never feel the power utility’s existence.

This comes after Eskom has kept load-shedding suspended for 56 consecutive days.

With the country’s general elections a week away, wary South Africans have raised concerns that Eskom is keeping the lights on due to pressure from the ruling party.

However, EE Business Intelligence MD and energy analyst Chris Yelland believes the load-shedding break is not an electioneering tool.

Yelland argues that a conspiracy like that — using load-shedding as an electioneering tool — would be difficult, if not impossible, given Eskom’s size.

Secondly, after spending roughly R23 billion on diesel in the past year, Eskom announced that it had cut its April diesel usage by R2 billion compared to last year.

This shows that Eskom is not burning through additional resources or doing anything abnormal to increase its capacity.

Instead, the governing party noticed how much load-shedding would weigh in on voter sentiment and has been actively trying to remedy the situation as best it can.

Chris Yelland, managing director of EE Business Intelligence

Eskom’s latest performance data showed a dramatic reduction in breakdowns, also known as the Unplanned Capability Loss Factor (UCLF).

Eskom’s UCLF since the beginning of the financial year dropped by seven percentage points — from 35.4% to 28.4% — compared to the same period last year.

This drop in UCLF has been directly attributed to Eskom’s increase in the Energy Availability Factor (EAF), which has risen to 60.56% (year-to-date) as of 16 May — an 8.9% increase compared to last year.

The electricity provider announced that as of 20 May, 3900MW of generating capacity has been returned to service.

At the start of 2024, Eskom’s forecast for the year showed that it expected an average of stage 2 load-shedding every week.

Sixteen weeks later, its outlook dramatically changed when it released its updated forecast for the coming year.

Eskom had reduced its outage assumption for its planned risk scenario from 18,200MW to 16,200MW, significantly reducing how much load-shedding it expected throughout the year.

Reassuringly, the UCLF has been lower than its assumptions.

“The concerted efforts to address unplanned outages, also known as the Unplanned Capacity Loss Factor (UCLF), have resulted in a further reduction in the UCLF from 11,036MW to 10,474MW week-on-week,” Eskom said two weeks into the current load-shedding break.

Nyati said in an interview with Newzroom Afrika that proper maintenance of the utility’s coal-fired power plants was vital, as this made them more reliable.

He said that it would take another year or so for Eskom to be fully back on track.

“In order to say that we are completely out of the woods, we need to say that we have touched all units and done sufficient maintenance,” Nyati said.

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South Africans should never feel Eskom’s existence — chair