Picture: Dean Hutton, Bloomberg

Cape Town - Power utility Eskom on Monday said it was on the verge of celebrating one full year without loadshedding.

In a statement, Eskom said that Tuesday August 9, which is also celebrated as Women’s Day in South Africa, would mark a full year without the scourge of loadshedding.

Eskom said this was largely due to the rigorous plant maintenance programme that the company had executed over the past 12 months.

Spokesman Khulu Phasiwe said Eskom had adhered to regular scheduled maintenance, which managed schedule outages based on forecasted demand and maintenance requirements.

According to Phasiwe, “a key aspect of this includes having a strict winter and summer maintenance budget, that comprises 8.5 GW for winter and 11.5 GW for summer”.

“In terms of our existing Generation sustainability strategy, our aim is to achieve 80% plant availability, 10% planned and 10% unplanned maintenance over the term.”

Phasiwe further said the reduction in unplanned outages contributed to improvements of plant availability and the resultant sharp reduction in the usage of open cycle gas turbines( OCGTs).

“The last time Eskom ran OCGTs to manage to manage the system was June 14, 2016. Our target is not to burn any gas for the rest of the financial year.”

Eskom said the resilience of its power system was stress ­tested in April this year following multiple trips of units at three power stations, a move that resulted in a loss of 3,535 MW. However, no loadshedding was implemented due to the increased resilience that Eskom had managed to build into the power system over the past few months.

However, there have been reports of certain parts of the country regularly experiencing power outages, but Phasiwe countered by saying that people should understand the difference between loadshedding and local outages.

“Loadshedding is a matter of a national concern and not local outages.

“We have not had any loadshedding in the country for 365 days, these are just individuals who experience outages which are expected if our systems are not used appropriately.”

Eskom said it was continuing with its build programme that would bring much needed power to support the country economic growth. In February this year, unit 1 of the Kusile power station

successfully completed factory acceptance tests, an important milestone towards the synchronisation of the unit. Kusile is expected to commercially operational in July 2018.

Medupi’s Unit 5 completed its factory acceptance tests last December and is also expected to be in full commercial operation by March 2018.

African News Agency