Eskom cuts power after Kusile unit trips

14 March 2019 - 12:13
By Reuters
Kusile Power Station in Delmas, Mpumalanga.
Image: Wikimedia Commons Kusile Power Station in Delmas, Mpumalanga.

Eskom said it would cut electricity on Thursday after a unit at its faulty Kusile power station tripped, adding to a shortfall of generating capacity.

Eskom, which supplies more than 90 percent of the country's power, has suffered a series of unplanned breakdowns at its creaking coal-fired power station fleet which limit its ability to power the country.

Kusile is one of two new mammoth power stations which have suffered massive cost overruns and technical problems.

Eskom said in a statement that it planned to cut 1,000 megawatts (MW) on a rotational basis countrywide from 11am to 11pm, a month after implementing some of the worst power cuts in several years.

Eskom's problems are a major challenge for President Cyril Ramaphosa as they have shaken investor confidence and threatened to stymie efforts to rekindle growth before a parliamentary election in May.

Andrew Etzinger, a senior Eskom official, told Reuters that around 12,000 MW of Eskom's roughly 45,000 MW capacity was offline on Thursday because of unplanned outages at some of the company's coal-fired power stations.

"Insufficient maintenance in recent years means many of our coal power stations are experiencing failures. Supplies of diesel are also under pressure," Etzinger said. Eskom burns diesel when it is unable to generate sufficient power from its fleet of mainly coal plants.

Ramaphosa's government has promised to inject R23-billion a year over the next three years to shore up Eskom's balance sheet and appointed a team of experts to come up with a plan to improve the firm's operational performance.