Power utility Eskom has announced there will be no load shedding in the Western Cape this week. The Stage 4 load shedding that was implemented last week is attributed to a constraint in diesel supply, as well as poor performance at power generation plants, including the new Medupi and Kusile plants.
No load shedding took place over the weekend.
Speaking to IOL, Andrew Etzinger, the acting group executive for power generation at Eskom, said the power utility made it clear in December 2018 that the maintenance being carried out could take up to 18 months to complete. He added that the problems being faced would also not be resolved in a short period of time.
According to Etzinger, the power utility had attended to plant-related problems last December, but these measures have proved not to have been enough. Coal stockpiles levels have been raised to last for the next 30 days, but this does not mitigate the threat of load shedding.
“My focus, for now, is to get generators back online as soon as possible,” Etzinger said.
He also said a team of internal maintenance engineers is busy attending to the problem, but that there is a gap in the skill set of the power utility.
The Western Cape Department of Economic Department is yet to calculate the fiscal impact of load shedding on the economy, but it has placed the province in a “vulnerable position”.
“Some figures suggest a cost per month to the South African economy of between R20-billion and R80-billion. The cost to the Western Cape, therefore, is between R3-billion and R12-billion per month, of multiple days of load shedding,” MEC for Economic Development, Beverly Schäfer said. “There are also other additional costs on our economy, like the potential loss of investment as investors look to invest where there is energy security. We’ve also seen in recent days the impact of load shedding on the rand, which has a further economic impact.”
“The economy cannot be allowed to fail and we must make it easier for Eskom to succeed,” Schäfer added.