South Africans have been warned to expect rolling blackouts to continue for the next 18 months as Eskom works to completely overhaul and repair its current system. According to the embattled power utility’s Chief Executive, Andre de Ruyter, this decision was not made lightly.
Stage 2 rotational load shedding was recently implemented to ensure that emergency energy reserves at open-cycle turbines and pumped storage schemes are replenished.
“Good progress has been made in replenishing these reserves (water and diesel), which are necessary to limit the possibility and magnitude of load shedding in the week ahead,” Eskom said in a statement. “Our teams are working hard to reduce unplanned outages or breakdowns, which were at 12 080MW at 7am today [Monday, February 3]. We will continue to monitor the system closely and will give periodic updates on the status of the power system as things may change at short notice.”
Eskom will be conducting what is known as philosophy maintenance on its coal fleet, and this means its generating units will be serviced in strict prescribed maintenance schedules. According to the public entity’s recently appointed Chief Operations Officer, Jan Oberholzer, the philosophy maintenance will combat the expected 18 months of blackouts.
“We are in process to plan how we are going to do load shedding for minimum impact when it’s required,” he said. “We will do our utmost to inform the public upfront.”
“We are going to identify units and we are going to concentrate initially on the units that will give us maximum benefit and return. It will be the big units,” the COO added. “It’s now time to do the philosophy maintenance because, if we don’t, the breakdowns will just continue and it will escalate.”
Check your load shedding schedule here.