Load-shedding to ease but will remain an 'unwelcome part of life' in SA
Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter says the current round of rolling blackouts will ease this week - but the power utility has conceded that load-shedding will not go away.
“Load-shedding is a phenomenon that has unfortunately been part of SA for 13 years. The reality of Eskom is that this will again, unfortunately, carry on for some time,” said Eskom spokesperson Sikhonathi Mantshantsha.
De Ruyter told radio 702 on Tuesday that, provided there was adequate storage of diesel and water to provide an emergency generation buffer, “we could see a reduction in load-shedding tomorrow [Wednesday] either to potentially stage one or lifting load-shedding entirely".
De Ruyter was questioned about his undertaking in June to parliament’s committee on public enterprises about there being only three days of stage one load-shedding forecast for July.
“I don’t think we lied to you," he said. "We said there was an 80% chance of three days of load-shedding during July, and we also said there remains a residual risk given the lack of reliability and predictability of the system.”
Coupled with one of the coldest winters in the past 10 years and increasing demand for electricity, “those risks have materialised”, he said.
Mantshantsha told TimesLIVE the power utility had put plans in place to deal with the root causes of load-shedding - past neglect of power plants and a poor maintenance record that had resulted in unstable and unreliable power stations.
“Even though we may shortly get over this current bout of load-shedding within days, the reality is that load-shedding will still be an unwelcome and disappointing part of life in SA until Eskom has finally repaired the design defects of the Medupi and Kusile power stations.
“This work will be completed by year-end at Medupi. Early this year these kind of repairs helped increase the capacity of the new Ingula power station."
Mantshantsha said completing the repairs would help reduce the instances of load-shedding in the coming year.
“New additional power stations will need to be brought online to help replace power stations that must be retired due to reaching the end of their design life,” he said.
Mantshantsha said the power utility would update the public daily about scheduled load-shedding.