The electricity minister and Eskom management have vowed that despite the undesirable return of high stages of load shedding, the safety of employees and everyone on sites would not be compromised, even when things became difficult.
As of last Thursday, Eskom faced a number of setbacks due to 10 generating units having to be taken out of service.
The power utility announced that a total of five generating units were taken out of service due to boiler tube leaks, which had resulted in insufficient generation capacity.
Additionally, the delay in returning three units from planned maintenance also reportedly contributed to inadequate generation capacity and increased reliance on emergency reserves.
According to Eskom, the need to replenish the emergency reserves and inadequate generation capacity necessitated the implementation of Stage 6 load shedding until further notice.
Providing an update on the situation Sunday, Eskom Group Executive for Generation Bheki Nxumalo alongside Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa announced that the team was working around the clock to at least return to Stage 4 by Wednesday.
Among the management, Nxumalo said, there was “high confidence” that as a result of the number of returning units between yesterday and tomorrow, they would be able to drive the system to lower stages by then.
He said one of the units at Kendal power station in Mpumalanga, which was battling with emissions, had just been returned to service yesterday following grid tests conducted over the weekend.
Regarding the situation at Medupi power station, the generation head said that the failures had come as a result of a chain that removes ash breaking down in the boiler. Ddue to the safety risk this posed, he said, a decision was taken by the power station management to take the units out.
“I concur with the minister that when there are unsafe conditions in the plant we really don’t get any pleasure, these are the decisions we make in terms of the station and that is the standard we will hold even if things are difficult.
“The stations will do what is right, and the team at Medupe did just that. When it was unsafe to run the units they had taken them out, even if this forced us to get to this Stage 6. We will not compromise the safety of employees or anyone on site because we are at load shedding, so that is the pain we will not trade,” he added.
After having successfully replenished its pump storage dam levels and bringing some generation units back to service, Eskom announced that this would see the country moving from Stage 6 to Stage 5 from midday, with the system to be monitored.
Eskom power station general managers and their teams would continue to ensure that a total of 3 200MW was returned to service by Wednesday evening.