Ramokgopa says attention must shift to distribution network as generation capacity improves

Electricity and Energy Minister Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa briefs the media on electricity distribution and generation performance in Pretoria. GCIS

Electricity and Energy Minister Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa briefs the media on electricity distribution and generation performance in Pretoria. GCIS

Published Jul 9, 2024


Electricity and Energy Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa has shifted his attention to the distribution network of electricity at municipal-level as the lack of investment and maintenance of infrastructure had forced Eskom to introduce load reduction.

This comes as a number of municipalities have been under severe strain and have begun implementing outages to avoid overloading their distribution system.

In his first media briefing since May 20, Ramokgopa yesterday said the improved performance of Eskom’s generation side had exposed how there had been little to no investment in replenishing maintenance, the upkeep, protection and modernisation of the distribution infrastructure.

“At municipal-level we face the twin problems of the poor payment culture and poor revenue management. The municipal debt owed to Eskom is now R78 billion and if we do not halt this progression, it will exceed R3 trillion in 2050. Distribution is our albatross,” Ramokgopa said.

To promote renewable energy, Ramokgopa said there had been intense discussions with stakeholders as to what the hurdles were in previous renewable-energy bid windows.

“I will be ultra-aggressive in the next bid window so that there will be exponential growth, which will mean we will be the leaders on our continent,” he said.

“We must ensure predictability and certainty so that we can build up the renewable-energy industry, while at the same time making sure that a competitive and transparent process is followed.”

Ramokgopa would also be meeting next week with the National Transmission Company SA (NTCSA), which officially started trading on July 1.

To help with the predictability, Ramokgopa’s ministry would look at the comments made on the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and where necessary make revisions to the IRP.

“Any revisions to the IRP will be based on evidence and science,” he said.

Ramokgopa also attributed the achievement of 100 consecutive days of no load shedding to the hard work of Eskom employees.

The last time South Africa experienced such an extended suspension of load shedding was the period between between September 8, 2020 and December 11, 2020.

Eskom yesterday marked a significant achievement for six of its generation power stations – Medupi, Kusile, Matimba, Matla, Hendrina and Grootvlei – recording an energy availability factor (EAF) of 70% and higher, with one station standing out with an exceptional EAF of 91.9%.

The improvement in plant performance is also reflected in the drop of the share of non-Eskom generation in total generation to 12.2% in May from 14.8% in February.

“The achievement of 100 days of no load shedding was no accident, but due to the hard work of the men and women of Eskom,” Ramokgopa said.

“It shows that the interventions we have implemented over the past few months are working. We are aiming to achieve an EAF above 70% on a consistent sustainable basis,” he said.

The congratulations on achieving 100 days of no load shedding was echoed by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his weekly letter.

“While this is a welcome milestone, it is not a reason to relax. Our electricity system remains vulnerable and we cannot yet rule out the possibility of further load shedding,” Ramaphosa said.

“Rather, this milestone provides encouragement for us to do more and work faster to ensure a secure supply of electricity now and into the future,” the president said.