The Eskom Board says it is urgently embarking on an in-depth audit of the entire system to ensure that every technical problem is understood at a granular level. Photo: Reuters

CAPE TOWN – The Eskom Board on Monday convened an urgent meeting with the company’s executive management and the Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan following the unexpected introduction of load shedding.

The state-owned power utility said in a statement that the initial schedule was to implement stage two load shedding on Monday as a result of generation shortages over the weekend and constraints in diesel supply. 

However, Eskom then implemented stage four load shedding. 

"The escalation from stage two to stage four load shedding was caused by a further seven generating units that tripped within a period of five hours," said Eskom. 

"This report on the causes, including all the challenges of the new and old power station, was much of the deliberations between the board, management and the Department of Public Enterprises in today’s meeting that lasted for more than six hours."

The power utility said by Monday evening, four units had returned to service and it was expected that the remaining three would be back to service by Tuesday morning. 

"We will have a systems and operations update within the next 24 hours."

The board was provided with a detailed analysis about breakdowns in Eskom’s new build programme and at its fleet of older power stations. 

The Medupi and Kusile power stations – the core of the new build programme – are continuing to show a lack of reliability to contribute meaningfully to Eskom’s generating capacity, which is a serious concern, the utility said.

The board then resolved to institute an urgent review to establish when, realistically, these projects would be completed, the extent of design and other operational faults, what steps could be implemented to minimise the escalating costs and what could be done to increase output.

The board said it was also urgently embarking on an in-depth audit of the entire system to ensure that every technical problem was understood at a granular level and to avoid unexpected crises as seen on Monday.

The chairperson of the Eskom Board, Jabu Mabuza, said: “We remain uncomfortable about the stability of the generating system but will keep the country informed of our progress over the next few days in providing better assurance about electricity supply.

"We continue to appeal to residents and businesses to use electricity sparingly during this period to assist in reducing demand."

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE