State-owned power utility Eskom says it has no plans for further outages over the winter period as its systems kick into place. Photo: Reuters

JOHANNESBURG – Power utility Eskom, which yesterday managed to curb load shedding after eight consecutive days of rolling blackouts, says it has no plans for further outages over the winter period as its systems kick into place.

Eskom said yesterday that an improvement in plant performance, with the return of five units since Friday morning, had positively shifted system performance, and it had healthy diesel and water reserves over this period.

Imports from Mozambique’s Cahora Bassa have increased to 850MW, with the restoration of feed from one of the two lines, although a second transmission line would take months to repair.

According to internal reports at Eskom, there were no major planned outages, with Unit 1 at Kusile Power Station due for refuelling only in September or October, while Unit 2 has recently been refuelled and therefore was in good condition to provide power for the next 15 to 18 months until the next refuelling, maintenance and statutory inspections.

“Unit 1 has been online for 278 days and will go on a scheduled shutdown for refuelling in September or October this year. Unit 2 has been online for 88 days now after refuelling in December last year,” Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe confirmed.

Eskom’s stability, however, comes in the wake of media reports that the National Treasury’s refusal in 2017 to extend a contract worth R275 million between the power utility and Carab Technologies, which is owned by former Eskom employees Dirk van Aarde and Fanie Scheepers, to provide software and technology to monitor boilers may have contributed to the intense load shedding that started on March 16 and ended yesterday.

The tender was reportedly halted in September 2017 as the Treasury put its foot down over lack of evidence that Carab’s service could not be provided by others, or how it was appointed to do the work.

“Reports alleged that funds meant for vital maintenance of power plants were diverted to the Kusile Power Station and other capital expenditure programmes, where looting took place through dodgy tenders,” DA spokesperson Natasha Mazzone said in a statement.

The previous boiler maintenance contract was also reportedly not renewed by the National Treasury, as it was an illegal tender. 

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan had reportedly stated that funding for maintenance began to disappear five years ago, Mazzone said. |  Additional reporting by African News Agency (ANA) and Bloomberg