Damaged silos at the Majuba Power Station.

Johannesburg - Eskom has started load shedding in some areas, the power utility’s website says.

“We are currently load shedding in Stage 1 in some areas due to high demand or urgent maintenance being performed at certain power stations,” the website said.

This comes after Eskom spokesman Andrew Etzinger said on Friday morning that the power supply was “highly constrained” and that people should be prepared for power cuts this weekend.

“Power consumers should check the schedules online to familiarise themselves regarding outage times so they are prepared,” Etzinger said.

“We are doing all we can to avoid it,” he said. People should consume as little electricity as possible.

Etzinger said Eskom would keep the public informed at all times.

Eskom earlier warned of renewed risks of load shedding saying that unforeseen technical problems including poor-quality coal delivered to certain power stations and the effect of the Majuba power station not being back to full production following the collapse of the silo and boiler tube leaks at certain stations, were putting the power system at risk.

Etzinger said some of the coal received had higher ash content and was hampering the power stations’ capability to operate.

The lack of maintenance and refurbishment at power stations because of the need to generate power in a crisis situation, has led to poor generation capacity.

Speaking on the situation at Majuba, Etzinger said it would be another five years before Medupi is fully operational.

The first unit at Medupi would be synchronised by the end of the year, then the unit would provide full output by April and be ready for commercial operation in about May.

“The total station (all six units) will be in commercial operation by 2019,” said Etzinger.

He was commenting after the government issued a briefing statement from the economic sectors, employment and infrastructure development cluster on Thursday.

Trade union Solidarity warned on Thursday against Eskom’s continued denial regarding the actual state of its coal storage silos.

Deon Reyneke, head of industry, said the Majuba power station’s silo 30 has a visible two-metre-long crack.

Reyneke said Eskom had failed to admit senior management knew about structural problems with Majuba silo 20 before its collapse on November 1.

Eskom’s refusal to acknowledge its mistakes and to instead pretend that Solidarity’s claims are false, was unacceptable.

“We have proceeded to gather evidence of Eskom’s knowledge of the structural problems with silo 20 and Eskom’s failure to conduct proper preventative maintenance. We are concerned that the same route will now be taken with silo 30,” Reyneke warned.

Etzinger said the two remaining coal silos at Majuba were emptied after the collapse and were being prepared for a thorough examination.

Furthermore, he said, investigations were being conducted on all silos countrywide.

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The Star