Load shedding not ruled out this festive season

DECEMBER 9, 2014

Although the prognosis for power supply over the festive season is not looking bad, Eskom on Monday did not rule out the possibility of load shedding.

Addressing reporters at a state of the power system media briefing on Monday, Eskom Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tshediso Matona said that 6 000 MW of power will return to the grid this month.

“With this, we should be able to cope,” he said, while adding that the risk of load shedding still stands for this December.

The briefing comes as South Africans across the country have been subjected to load shedding incidents in recent weeks and at the weekend.

In the prognosis for the coming months, the power utility said that the month of January, which is typically a maintenance month, will be the same as in December.

However, February and March 2015 “are pretty concerning”, said Matona, adding that by those months the utility’s financial levers will become majorly constrained.

When coming to the rest of this week, there is a high probability of load shedding on Thursday and Friday following on today’s load shedding due to an incident at the Majuba power station.

For this week, over 2 000 MW is expected to be returned to the national grid, which should put the country on a good footing.

At Monday’s briefing, the utility apologised to the public for the inconvenience caused as a result of load shedding.

“We’d like to apologise to the nation for the inconvenience that everybody in SA has gone through. We are living on the edge,” said Matona.

Many Eskom plants are out and this is one of the reasons for the load shedding incidents. Additionally, the combination of old plants, coal quality and weather conditions have led to the recent spate of load shedding incidents.

Eskom load sheds at the weekend to recover water as well as to reserve diesel for use over the week. The utility also does its maintenance work at the weekend.

South Africans first experienced load shedding in 2008. At the briefing, Matona said that the utility is better prepared now than it was when load shedding in the past.

The utility said that some outages were due to human elements but that sometimes, this is outside of the utility’s hands such as weather conditions.

Matona said that the utility will continue to do maintenance work going forward.

“We will not put our foot off the pedal but we do hope that we don’t have prolonged periods of load shedding going forward,” said the CEO.

Medupe power station

Speaking on the synchronisation of the first unit at the Medupi power station in Limpopo, which was due to happen on 24 December this year, the CEO said this is unlikely to happen.

However, progress is being made at the plant.

The utility expects synchronisation of the first unit in early January.

Additionally, South Africa needs a change of behaviour when coming to the use of electricity, said Matona. - SAnews.gov.za