Eskom, Gordhan in six-hour meeting as load-shedding grips SA
Continued problems at Eskom’s massive Kusile and Medupi power plants are adding to the country’s electricity problems.
This was revealed in a statement issued by the national power utility on Monday night just hours after it had plunged SA into unprecedented stage 4 rotational power cuts – commonly referred to as load-shedding.
Eskom also said it had held an “urgent” six-hour meeting with public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan after raising load-shedding from stage two to stage four.
The stage-two power cuts were caused initially by “generation shortages” and “constraints in diesel supply”, but the need for stage four came due to “a further seven generating units that tripped within a period of five hours”.
In a late-night statement providing an update on the situation, Eskom said its new Medupi and Kusile power plants – described as the “core of the new build programme” – were showing “a lack of reliability to contribute meaningfully to Eskom’s generating capacity, which is a serious concern”.
“[Eskom's] board has resolved to institute an urgent review to establish when, realistically, these projects will be completed; the extent of design - and other operational – faults; what steps can be implemented to minimise the ever-escalating costs; and what can be done to increase output,” the statement said.
“The board is also urgently embarking on an in-depth audit of the entire system to ensure that every technical problem is understood at a granular level and to avoid unexpected crises as seen today.”
At its meeting with Gordhan, Eskom said, a report on the causes of the power shortages, including all the challenges of its new and old power stations, made up the bulk of the discussions between the board, management and the department of public enterprises.
Though it did not provide the exact outcomes of the meeting, Eskom said four units had returned to service by Monday night, and it expected to return the remaining three to service by Tuesday morning.
Board chairman Jabu Mabuza said: “We remain uncomfortable about the stability of the generating system but will keep the country informed of our progress over the next few days in providing better assurance about electricity supply.”
An update was expected within 24 hours.