While President Ramaphosa has stated that “the government has taken “far-reaching and necessary decisions to ensure the sustainable security of energy supply”, an energy expert told VOC that even after solutions are in place load shedding is likely to continue for an additional five years after implementation. The power utility’s latest rolling blackouts and its unprecedented decision to implement stage 6 load-shedding have raised the ire of the country. In light of the recent escalation, President Cyril Ramaphosa has issued a statement acknowledging that the “ongoing load shedding is devastating for the country” and that is causing the economy “great harm and disrupting the lives of citizens.”
OUTA Energy expert, Ted Blom also says it’s very strange that Eskom is experiencing the type of mechanical trouble they are citing.
In a statement released by Eskom on Monday, the power utility stated:
“We regret and sincerely apologise that Stage 4 loadshedding moved to Stage 6 loadshedding from 18:00 to 23:00, as a result of a shortage of capacity caused by a number of unexpected events including the following:
-The power supply to the incline conveyors feeding coal to the silos at Medupi power station failed causing coal-feeding issues resulting in a loss of a number of units.
-At Kriel, there was flooding at both the Kriel mine and the power station leading to no coal deliveries via the conveyor belt.
-Camden experienced abnormally high rain at approximately 250mm over the past week leading to flooding impacting the boiler and turbine hall and other critical infrastructure that is connected to coal supply and handling inside the station”
“It seems to me there’s been a confluence of events you normally wouldn’t experience more than once in a hundred years,” said Blom.
Blom suspects severe mismanagement and corruption at Eskom, particularly in the procurement of coal. He explained his suspicion, saying that management has bought fine coal which has little to no commercial value and becomes problematic when exposed to moisture.
He says while normal coal can become as wet as possible without a problem, fine coal can cause several issues when exposed to water due to its texture. Despite the problematic nature of fine coal, however, Blom says Eskom seems to pay “top dollar” for it. This, according to him, aids their corruption schemes at the power utility.
As far as flooding is concerned, Blom says it’s simply a matter of “poor housekeeping” and shouldn’t be possible.
“The reason SOE’s are not performing properly are because of corruption, political interference and nepotism. That is a political issue and people need to hold government accountable at election time… for every one stage of load shedding, that’s R1 billion worth of turnover lost for the day [and] in a couple of months time we’ll see the consequences of yesterday and this week’s load shedding. We’ll see more business closures,” warned Blom.
“We can’t afford to have novices running the organisation, learning at our behest. We are not guinea pigs… we’re paying the highest price of electricity in the history of this country. There’s too much political interference and political mismanagement.”