Politics

Load shedding could be pushed to stage 6, says Eskom


Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter says further challenges in generation capacity mean that there is a strong possibility that the country will have to move into stage 6 load shedding from tonight.

The power utility suffered breakdowns of 10 generating units overnight, resulting in the loss of more than 6 000MW of power. By Tuesday morning, only 1 300MW of power has been returned to the grid.

Furthermore, the power utility is already facing a deficit of some 1 400MW of power ahead of the evening peak, despite implementing stage 4 load shedding since Friday.

De Ruyter said at least 14 204MW of power is currently unavailable due to breakdowns, with an additional 3 218MW also offline due to planned maintenance.

“We have associated losses mainly due to the unavailability of coal and labour, which leads us to an addition 3661MW of capacity that is not available. This situation creates substantial risk. We currently have plans to return some 3 400MW to service by 5pm this afternoon.

“If we get all of that back – and that is subject to considerable risk, given the nature of the ongoing unlawful industrial action that we are experiencing – there is a possibility that we may avert to stage six [load shedding]. But the risk is there,” he said on Tuesday.

De Ruyter said the power utility has also been relying heavily on its reserves.

“We have been consuming considerable diesel over the past number of days. We are burning about two million litres of diesel per day at both Ankerlig as well as Gourikwa [open cycle gas turbines]. For the month of June to date, we have already consumed 85 million litres of diesel.

“We need to protect both our dams and our diesel reserves in order to maintain that vital reserves capacity in the event of further unit outages,” he said.

Industrial action 

The chief executive said the ongoing strike at Eskom is further crippling its ability to ensure that power stations are manned and electricity is supplied.

“At Arnot [power station], we have no bargaining unit employees available and we are running with our managerial staff. At Camden similarly, our control rooms are manned by managerial staff. There has been a blocking of the access road by the dumping of coal… onto the access road. At Duvha, we have no controllers on site. At Hendrina, only 20% of workers are on site.

“We have seen peaceful protest at Kendal and Komati, where only one unit is operating. At Kriel, we have seen peaceful protesting but we have seen no resources for ash and dust handling and no plant operators. At Lethabo, we have seen pretty severe incidents of intimidation… 70 maintenance staff are absent,” De Ruyter said.

At least seven other power stations have experienced minimal to no strike related incidents.

De Ruyter said Eskom is diverting staff to keep essential services running but this has left the power utility unable to perform maintenance on plants.

“If the strike is resolved, we will have a significant backlog in maintenance, which will further create a prolonged risk of load shedding.

“I personally engaged with union leadership [on Monday]. We have had a productive discussion. We are in the process of preparing for another meeting… and if we are able to resolve the matter, then it will be a question of a number of shifts before we have all our people back on site and restoring the situation,” he said. – SAnews.gov.za



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