Photo: Dean Hutton
Photo: Dean Hutton

Eskom: Friday power cuts in Stage 1

By Reuters And IOL Time of article published Apr 17, 2015

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Johannesburg - Eskom will implement Stage 1 load shedding from 6am until 10pm on Friday, the South African power utility said on its Twitter feed early on Friday morning.

This comes after Eskom resumed widespread electricity cuts for the fifth straight day on Thursday as it battles to repair ageing power plants.

In one of its worst power outages in years, Eskom lost a quarter of its electricity supply on Tuesday in both scheduled maintenance and plant breakdowns.

The power supply shortages compounded South Africa's worst electricity crisis since 2008, under which homes and businesses are subjected to frequent controlled blackouts implemented by Eskom to prevent the grid from collapsing.

Eskom said in January it was faced a maintenance backlog but did not provide details of how many power plants needed repair.

The utility sets aside a reserve margin of 5 000 megawatts to allow for repairs to its creaking fleet but unexpectedly lost a further 9 500 MW of power on Tuesday because of breakdowns, which industry insiders attributed to poor maintenance.

“If you look at the number of post-maintenance outages, they are running away. There is no other reason for this than it (maintenance) is not of the requisite quality,” said an industry insider.

“They rush because the problem is so big. They shouldn't be rushing and should be making sure that when the system is brought back online, it doesn't subsequently trip.”

The insider said it could take up to 90 days to restart a unit that trips.

Eskom spokesman Khulu Phasiwe said the utility did not rush repairs and it was prepared to get the work done “properly” even if it was forced to cut power for longer.

“When you take a unit offline for service and start it up again, it does not give you the full capacity so engineers have to switch it off,” Phasiwe said.

“People who drive cars do the same thing, after you have done an engine overhaul, sometimes when you try to start the car, it doesn't start. Then you have to go back and see what is wrong. It's complex and takes time.”

Reuters and IOL

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