Eskom said due to lower electricity demand it, issued force majeure notices to the industry to alert them that it would, “from time-to-time curtail their supply". Picture: FABRIZIO BENSCH/Reuters
Eskom said due to lower electricity demand it, issued force majeure notices to the industry to alert them that it would, “from time-to-time curtail their supply". Picture: FABRIZIO BENSCH/Reuters

Wind farms seek counsel on Eskom curtailing supply amid Covid-19 outbreak

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Apr 3, 2020

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Cape Town - The wind independent power producers (IPP) industry is seeking legal counsel on whether reduced electricity demand as a result of Covid-19 outbreak allows Eskom to cut back on energy from operational wind farms.

This action comes after Eskom said due to lower electricity demand it, issued force majeure notices to the industry to alert them that it would, “from time-to-time curtail their supply to the grid during the national lockdown”.

A force majeure is an act of God or man that is unforeseen and unforeseeable, and out of the reasonable control of one or both of the parties to a contract, and which makes it objectively impossible for one or both of the parties to perform their obligations under the contract.

SA Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) chief executive Ntombifuthi Ntuli said: “This comes as a surprise to the 22 operational wind farms, which have a combined installed capacity of 1980megawatt as the power utility failed to alert or warn the IPPs of such action, prior to issuing the notices.

“In fact, Eskom’s Single Buyer Office sent a letter to all operating IPPs last week (March 25) to confirm that the categorisation of essential services applies to facilities currently in operation.

“The industry is seeking legal counsel on whether the reduced electricity demand as a result of Covid-19 does in fact constitute force majeure, as declared by Eskom, as some experts deem reduced demand as a normal system event, which would therefore not imply a force majeure event.”

Eskom’s said the lower electricity demand has given it space to double its planned maintenance.

Absa economist Miyelani Maluleke said: “The drop in electricity usage is also another indication of how much economic activity has slowed down as a result of the lockdown.

“Unplanned breakdowns were reported at 8572MW as of Thursday.

“At this level, unplanned outages are below the 9500MW threshold at which Eskom can avoid load shedding even when normal demand returns,” said Maluleke.

Eskom said it too a number of units off the grid to protect the network and would add Koeberg Unit 2 to this list

Koeberg Unit 2 is only expected to be reconnected to the grid on April 30, but Eskom said it could return to service at short notice if demand rebounded.

@MwangiGithahu

[email protected]

Cape Argus

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