ELECTRICITY Minister Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa has blamed revolving door at management level for the instability at Tutuka power station in Mpumalanga, which is the worst performing among Eskom’s coal fleet.
This comes as Ramokgopa on Friday met with the Tutuka Power Station general manager Bruce Moyo, the station’s management and engineers in a bid to assess the state of progress of units that need to be restored.
In a media briefing, Ramokgopa said Tutuka had been a “perennial underperformer” in recent years. Ramokgopa said the power station has moved from generating about 98% energy availability factor (EAF), and was now sitting at about 21% EAF. He said they had deployed additional resources in the context of resource mobilisation fund and they were stationed at Tutuka.
“This is a big power station in that you have six installed units, they should be generating 560MW each and about 3 500MW put together, but all we are getting is 21% of that,” Ramokgopa said.
“We visited Tutuka on Friday just to have a sense of management as to where they are. There is a plan to return a number of units to service and we said that plan has to be robust because on three or four occasions they had plans to return these units to service but we have not been able to.
“And we were also trying to understand what could be some of the reasons outside the technical considerations, and we could see that there are issues of leadership instability at Tutuka.
“Over a period of about seven years you have had about six general managers. So of course when one comes to the station they’ve got their own philosophy of how they want to do things, and that undermines the consistency of the application of the strategy of how we want to get these units back.”
Ramokgopa commended Eskom’s head of generation, Bheki Nxumalo, for placing Moyo, one of the most experienced engineers, in charge of Tutuka and taking ownership of interventions there.
He said Moyo had an appreciation for what the units at Tutuka were capable of as he has worked there as a cluster manager for a long time, and thus improvement can be expected in the foreseeable future.
“We do expect that towards the end of September we should have about two of these units back, and the conversation there was a bit more robust. The timelines that were shared with us were a bit more optimistic, some of them were a bit more conservative,” he said.
Ramokgopa said they had agreed to come back to the power station once the team has reconsidered some of the input that was given and the timelines set.
“But we are confident that we are going to see some of these units gradually coming on stream by early September. Tutuka really provides the best pristine opportunity for us to add these megawatts,” said Ramokgopa.
“Like I said, 21% of the energy availability factor, of course because of the objective conditions, they set themselves a target of about 49% for the current financial year, but even for that account they are not meeting it, they are halfway through, because some of them are on long-term outages.”
Ramokgopa also pointed to the surging unplanned capacity loss factor for the under-performance of Tutuka, saying upwards of 74% when in fact their target was about 32%.
“Of 3 500MW we are only getting about 1 000MW, so there is about 2 500MW that are locked in at Tutuka, and that gives us an opportunity to make an intervention that is telling and we are able to deliver a significant dent on load shedding,” he said.
“So there are about two stages of load shedding that are locked at Tutuka, because of these units, but the team is doing everything possible to address this situation.”