Cape Town - Stage 8 of load shedding was highly likely ahead of a “very difficult winter”, Eskom officials said on Thursday.
This is as Eskom held its State of System briefing to provide the public with an outlook for winter.
Interim group chief executive, Calib Cassim, said: “It is going to be a difficult winter. If the indicative interventions do not receive the desired outcome, the likelihood of stage 8 is extremely high. Despite several positive developments to address Eskom’s challenges, load shedding has intensified with a devastating impact on our economy.”
He said the increase in load shedding levels did not mean there was a greater risk of a national blackout, “instead, load shedding is one of the processes we use to prevent such an occurrence by managing the demand for electricity at a given time”.
“Eskom remains committed to increase the amount of available generation, with a specific focus over the winter period, by reducing our unplanned losses in the generation fleet, managing planned maintenance to the minimum level of maintenance required over winter increasing diesel burn at the open cycle gas turbines (OCGT),” Cassim said.
Adding to the bleak situation, he said Eskom’s Energy Availability Factor (EAF) target of 60% by the end of March this year was not met.
The EAF had, in fact, deteriorated and is currently standing at 52%.
Board chairperson, Mpho Makwana, added that the country was expected to go through winter without 960KW from Koeberg unit one, which would only come back online in September.
Touching on embattled former CEO Andre de Ruyter, he added: “Trust was broken in a repulsive manner, in terms of his contract of employment, corporate governance.”
He said the board would be taking further steps against De Ruyter and would be instituting an independent investigation to “get to the veracity of the allegations” he made, including that cartels run the show, among others.
Meanwhile, he added that “good progress” was being made in the search for De Ruyter’s replacement.