Eskom says plant maintenance to continue this winter

Posted On Thursday, 18 June 2015 12:31 Published by
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Eskom says it is set to continue with planned maintenance during the winter months, while the power utility also dispelled prospects of a total electricity blackout.


Brian Molefe

Briefing reporters on Wednesday, acting Eskom Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Brian Molefe said that the power utility will conduct 5 500 megawatts planned maintenance over the winter period. This as the utility has a volatile and aging plant. The maintenance to be conducted is three times more than the maintenance that has been done in previous winters.

Molefe said that the prospect of a blackout, is non-existent, while adding that the company’s build programme is the ticket out of load shedding.

“There is no prospect of a blackout in South Africa; that is virtually non-existent. We will have stage one, stage 2 and when things are really bad maybe stage 3 load shedding but not a total blackout which represents total system collapse that is out of the question,” he said.

Going into the winter season, the parastatal anticipates this winter to be colder than previous winters with this expected to have an impact on the demand for electricity.

“We anticipate to supply 100% of electricity on most days and 96% during peak periods. We will endeavour for 100%,” explained Molefe.

Molefe said that even when there is load shedding, the utility provides power to 96% of the country.

The acting chief executive further added that illegal electricity connections also increase in winter thereby also impacting on the demand for electricity in winter.

While the utility will continue with planned maintenance, it will do so with minimum load shedding.

“We will continue with maintenance during this winter with minimal or no load shedding. We will use all resources including IPPs, and open gas turbines to minimise load shedding,” said Molefe, adding that the current coal stock levels were at healthy stock levels.

Molefe said that the company had performed better than expected in the first half of the year. 

Open cycle gas turbines has been used extensively to prevent load shedding and to minimise load shedding.

He said that Independent Power Producers (IPPs) play a role to the energy grid contributing about 1 872MW when the system is constrained. Medupi’s unit 6 is on track to be commissioned, coming into commercial operation by the end of August. The synchronisation of the second unit will happen in 2017.

The build programme continues to contribute positively to the grid with 100MW coming from the Sere wind farm. “The built programme is our ticket out of load shedding,” he said.

As long as the utility does maintenance under 7 gigawatts in winter, it is able to do maintenance without load shedding.


“We have an immediate solution for Majuba and as a result we are able to enable that all units of 3 800MW run at full load. That has been implemented,” said Molefe.

This after one of the three silos, which housed over 10 000 tons of coal each, cracked and later collapsed, impacting coal supplies to six units last year.

Molefe said the investigation into what happened at Majuba has been concluded and will be presented to the Eskom board and shareholder department soon.

Load shedding stages

The utility has also amended its load shedding stages. Stage 1 load shedding is still at 1 000MW shortage while stage 2 is still at a 2 000MW shortage while stage 3 was only put in place where there was a shortage of 4 000MW. “From now on stage 3 will be declared when there is a shortage of 3 000MW.”

Tariff application

When coming to tariff application, Eskom had only applied for 6.8%.

“Our actual application is actually 6.8%. We applied for additional money for diesel to avoid load shedding, we were only granted about 0.1% or R1. 5 billion.  R1.5 billion for diesel to avoid load shedding is not enough, R1.5 billion is what we use in one month, and in fact it is finished.

“If we do not get the additional R10.9 billion for the rest of the year and we switch off the open gas turbines because the regulator is not allowing it, then we will go into load shedding quicker than we are at the moment,” he said. - 


Last modified on Thursday, 18 June 2015 14:03

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