Johannesburg - Power utility Eskom has said that it would hold meetings with the government and labour to discuss its plans to decommission five power stations.
Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said the utility decided on the move as some of these stations were nearing the end of their lifespan.
Phasiwe said overcapacity had once again prompted the decommissioning of the power stations. “Working within a context of surplus electricity supply, low economic growth, and the need to add new renewable energy projects, Eskom has had to create space for the renewables by proposing to close some of the coal-fired power stations. This will also help meet South Africa’s commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.
The first unit of Komati was commissioned in 1961, while the first units of Camden and Grootvlei were commissioned in 1967 and 1969, respectively.
The power stations, all based in Mpumalanga, were mothballed in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the country was experiencing electricity overcapacity.
But at the height of power shortages a few years ago, Eskom brought back to service Komati, Grootvlei and Camden.
Phasiwe said Eskom would meet various interested parties including the trade unions and the government “in an effort to address this matter. We are hopeful that the matter will be resolved amicably, and without any job losses.”
Read also: NUMSA to strike over Eskom plan
Eskom recently caused an uproar when it said its Hendrina, Kriel, Komati, Grootvlei and Camden would be shut, putting at least 6000 jobs on the line.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) on Sunday said it was dismayed and shocked by the announcement and accused Eskom of failing to consult trade unions.
“We are convinced that the lack of consultation demonstrates that there is an attempt to hide the real reasons for this drastic course of action.
“Eskom is well aware that if it has plans to end jobs or retrench workers it must follow due process, which includes declaring section 189, so that proper retrenchment processes can take place. This has not happened,” the union said. Numsa threatened to go on strike “if necessary.”
Phasiwe said the five power stations employed more than 6000 employees. “If you add the coal miners and the truck drivers, then the figure will rise sharply,” said Phasiwe.
A group of truck drivers blocked main highways into Pretoria in protest against the integration of renewable energy into the national grid.
They said the execution of the independent power producer programme would lead to coal mine closures and loss of thousands of jobs.