Despite lingering concerns over the long term sustainability of the country’s power grid, utility provider Eskom has sought to assure South Africans that there is little possibility of load shedding over the course of the next week. This comes after Eskom was forced to conduct much needed maintenance over the holiday period at its Majuba Power Station; the source of the current electricity woes.
Despite their aspirations to avoid power cuts altogether, Spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said the vulnerable nature of the power system meant that there were occasions where they did experience a breakdown in some power generating units. This ultimately necessitated the implementation of load shedding.
The forecast was positive for the week ahead though, with a load shedding risk of low to medium.
“As a result we are not foreseeing the possibility of load shedding for this week at least,” he stated.
Eskom has come under fire of late for its silence on whether maintenance was conducted over the holiday peak period at Majuba, where a silo collapsed in November. But Phasiwe insisted that maintenance had taken place as planned, further stating this was in fact done on an annual basis.
“Basically we have been having a lot of backlog in terms of our maintenance. This ultimately came from 2010 when we were hosting the World Cup. Our intention at the time was to keep the lights on at all costs, including delaying some of the maintenance. Obviously that is beginning to catch up with us, and that is what we are trying to clear up now,” he stated.
At present the Majuba station is reported to be running at around 40% to 50% of its capacity as a result of the silo collapse. This has hampered coal supply to certain parts of the unit, forcing workers to try and work around the issue.
“The process is very slow. In the other 60% of the power station we are able to feed coal without having any challenges at all,” he acknowledged.
The power cuts have also partly been fueled by several delays in the turn on of unit 6 at the Medupi Power Station, the last deadline of which was set for the 24th December. Phasiwe said the current delay was a result of an ongoing cleanup process within a boiler at the station, to clear out any debris left from the construction process.
“We as a company have spent seven years to build that unit and other things at the power station. We don’t want to compromise ourselves and our work just because of a deadline,” he insisted.
He added they would hope to bring the unit on line by June 2015. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)