Eskom says despite major challenges over the past four months, it has shown good progress on the key issues of the power provider’s turnaround strategy.
Eskom CEO André de Ruyter said Thursday that thanks to the short-term maintenance work done during the seclusion period, Eskom could supply 30,000 MW of power on Wednesday without using any of its open-cycle gas turbines.
“Although the generation of the generating plant is still volatile and unreliable, there has been a slight improvement in the power available – with a slight increase from 64% in March this year to 65% in April this year,” De Ruyter said.
Jan Oberholzer, Eskom’s chief operating officer, says that by April 2, maintenance had increased by 63% from 3,600 MW before the isolation period to 9,800 MW. Meanwhile, 6 776 MW is maintained compared to the 4 200 MW Eskom had planned for the seclusion.
“Based on this level of maintenance, the prospect of a three-day phase 1 load shedding is possible this winter. This is an improvement on the 31 days of forecast 1 phase load that was predicted, ”Oberholzer said.
He says that because of the volatility and unpredictability of the system, load shedding is still envisaged for the next 18 months. That could continue until at least August next year, Oberholzer warned.
Bheki Nxumalo, chief executive of Eskom’s generation, said the power provider saved about 38% on its open-cycle gas turbines and spent a total of R4.3bn – instead of the R6.98bn provided for.
According to Nxumalo, all general managerial positions at power plants, as well as all level 1 management positions, have since been filled.
“Although we do not expect load shedding to be put into operation this winter, there is still a chance. We undertake to inform South Africans in a timely manner that load shedding is inevitable. “
The key issues on which Eskom’s turnaround plan rests include operational stability, restructuring and improvement of its financial affairs.
The latter was only given a boost when National Energy Regulator Eskom last week authorized the recovery of R13.3 billion from consumers. The recovery is in addition to Eskom’s annual price increase.