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Eskom holds the gun to government’s head over additional capacity to stop load shedding

Eskom yesterday announced implementation of stage 2 loadshedding until Friday morning. File photo: Bloomberg.

Eskom yesterday announced implementation of stage 2 loadshedding until Friday morning. File photo: Bloomberg.

Published Nov 17, 2021


Eskom chief executive Andre de Ruyter said on Wednesday that due to the government's ignoring the power utility’s call in 1998 for new capacity of between 4 000 to 6 000 megawatts (MW), this resulted in the current generation crises.

At a briefing on the state of the system, De Ruyter said the delayed response from the government had also resulted in design defaults at Medupi and Kusile due to project implementation being rushed, leading to the current design errors and defects in the power stations that were still being dealt with to-date.

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These, he said, included "design constraints" with the coal conveying to the power stations as well as the ashing of the used coal.

"We keep asking government for the addition of megawatts on the grid to get legroom for maintenance. We have been asking for that for three years now, but there are still delays. The proposed generation of 100MW by the private sector is welcome, but there are delays with the implementation of that as well," Se Ruyter said.

He also reiterated before Parliament's Portfolio Committee late yesterday that there was a need to accelerate the additional megawatts to the grid, adding that the licensing agreements for the private sector generation to 100 MW would only deliver 2 600 MW which still fell short of the desired target.

Progress has been made by the National Energy Regulatory Authority of South Africa in appointing bidders for the IPP window 5, which would allow the private sector to deliver the additional capacity, but it was moving slower than the requirement to stop load shedding as Eskom yesterday announced implementation of stage 2 load shedding until Friday morning.

Responding to Parliamentarian's responses, Minister for Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan warned Eskom employees to desist from "nefarious activities", which, ultimately, undermined the integrity of the grid, Eskom and the country's economy.

"Culture change is one thing in talking about it and another in practice. Indications are that short cuts are still being taken, there needs to be a culture change in practice. Eskom workers must stop these nefarious activities which is causing damage to the Eskom systems and the country's integrity," Gordhan said.

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This was in reference to the blow out of the Medupi unit 4 generator, which blew up in July after inefficiencies in the substitution of a mixture of hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and air caused an explosion that took 720MW out of the system, with delays of up to 18 months before the repairs are effected.

Gordhan also called for the ring-fence of irregular expenditure at Eskom relating to the state capture years where an estimated R1.25 billion out of R2.1bn is attributed in current audits to the period.

Gordhan and De Ruyter emphasised that the funds lost to state capture needed to be separated from the current books as it gave the impression that the utility still had no control of its finances.

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