IN QUOTES | Ageing fleets, maintenance and long-term load-shedding: Eskom COO speaks

16 March 2021 - 07:20 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer. File photo.
Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer. File photo.
Image: BusinessLIVE

Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer said the power utility is focused on improving its operations by correcting design defects at newer power stations and extending the life of older units.

Oberholzer and Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter briefed the media on Monday about the state of the country's electricity system. Oberholzer said it is regrettable that the power utility has to resort to load-shedding.

SA is experiencing stage 2 load-shedding until Wednesday morning. The utility said this is due to a loss of generating capacity.

Here are five quotes from the briefing:

Power stations 

“The Tutuka, Duvha and Kusile power stations are really challenging at this time and are performing extremely poorly but there's a dedicated focus on how to turn these about. If we can solve this, we're talking about 2,300MW that we can add. If you take load-shedding of stage 2 of 2,000MW we can fix [load-shedding] and we will move forward.” 

Ageing power fleet

“We have assets that are relatively old. In the transmission environment, our transformers are 45 years old, so they need to be refurbished and replaced ... we have plans to replace all of those.” 

Maintenance will reduce power cuts 

“If you take Kusile and Medupi out of the equation, the average age of the coal-fired power stations are in excess of 40 years old. So if you don't maintain it and you run it in the red all the time, then it is very clear why you find yourself where we find ourselves at this point in time.”

Short term maintenance during Covid-19

“When Covid-19 started about a year ago it provided us with an opportunity to do some maintenance. Initially, we focused on short-term maintenance. However, in the middle of the year, we moved to liability maintenance. Units are designed to be maintained in a certain way. Unfortunately, this is what we haven't done in the last decade.” 


“I'd like to remind the public that unfortunately where we find ourselves, the system is still very vulnerable and just this weekend demonstrates it. We believed we had moved forward and we can have a look at lifting the load-shedding, we lost a number of units just over the weekend. The system remains unreliable and unpredictable.”