Senior officials at Eskom said that there is a risk of load shedding during the winter months and well into 2021. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)
Senior officials at Eskom said that there is a risk of load shedding during the winter months and well into 2021. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Risk of load shedding remains as country heads towards wintertime

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published May 22, 2020

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Cape Town - Senior officials at Eskom said that there is a risk of load shedding during the winter months and well into 2021.

Speaking during a virtual media briefing at which Eskom provided details of the company's operational performance and the system outlook for the winter period as well as the status of the power system, Eskom group chief executive André de Ruyter said: “It is important to recognise that due to the unreliability and unpredictability of the system, the risk of load shedding remains.

“This will be the reality until after the 18 months of reliability maintenance to August 2021,” he said.

Group executive for generation, Bheki Nxumalo, said: “While we don't expect to implement load shedding this winter, the risk of load shedding does remain, but we endeavour to keep South Africans informed timeously in the event that load shedding cannot be avoided.”

On the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the power supply, De Ruyter said: “The pandemic has reduced demand which has created the opportunity to execute additional short-term maintenance to address emergent issues, including those that are contributing to partial load losses.”

Eskom’s chief operating officer, Jan Oberholzer, said: “A total of 21 Eskom employees and contractors have tested positive for Covid-19 and are receiving the best treatment available.”

He said: “A comprehensive and focused effort is in place to protect employees and contractors in compliance with the government's Covid-19 heath and safety regulations.”

Meanwhile, reacting to the news earlier in the week that the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) has given Eskom the green light to recover billions of rand from tariffs charged to standard customers, special-pricing arrangement customers and international customers, chief executive of Agri Western Cape, Jannie Strydom, said: “The fact that electricity costs have risen by more than inflation over the past decade, and product prices have not risen accordingly, contributes to the cost-squeeze effect in which producers find themselves.” 

Agri SA chairperson for Economics and Trade Centre of Excellence, Nicol Jansen, said: “More than 25% of the country’s food is produced by irrigation-reliant and energy-intensive industries, including horticulture, dairy, poultry, grains, and agroprocessing. 

“These increases will place tremendous liquidity pressure on agricultural enterprises, given that electricity constitutes a significant proportion of their variable costs.” 

Jansen said: “Alternative solutions as part of energy sector reform should allow for greater private sector participation and competition in power generation to make it affordable.”

@MwangiGithahu

[email protected]

Cape Argus

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