Expect electricity problems for years: expert

Eskom started implementing load-shedding across South Africa on 6 March 2014 – and the bad news is that the electricity shortfall is not a problem which will be fixed anytime soon.

Andrew Etsinger, senior manager at Eskom, told Radio 702 that the underlying vulnerability of the electricity grid will continue beyond the commissioning of the first generator at the new Medupi power station.

“It will persist for the next two years – it will take that long for us to bring capacity on and to catch up on the maintenance backlog which we have on our existing fleet of generators,” said Etsinger.

He explained that, in two years, there will be a significant improvement, but for the next two years Eskom will be vulnerable.

“It could be rain today, it can be severe cold weather over the country during winter,” said Etsinger. “Our ability and our buffer to absorb such shocks to our system is unfortunately reduced at the moment.”

Eskom should take responsibility

Chris Yelland, an electrical engineer and MD at EE Publishers, told Radio 702 that Eskom should start to take responsibility for the power outages and lack of capacity.

“When the weather is hot, they blame the hot weather. When the weather is cold, they blame the cold weather. When it’s raining, they blame the wet weather. The bottom line is they’re blaming everybody except themselves.”

He added that, if Medupi – which is running three years late – was completed and operational as initially planned, we would not have had the current electricity shortfall.

Even after the first Medupi generator comes online, said Yelland, South Africa’s power problems are far from over.

“There are no quick fixes,” said Yelland. “We are in for a torrid few years”.

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Expect electricity problems for years: expert