Eskom: Load shedding implemented until Saturday
THE SOUTH AFRICAN / 20 FEBRUARY 2020 - 07.17 / LUKE DANIEL
Eskom says load shedding is likely to persist for the remainder of February.
Stage 2 load shedding will persist from Thursday 20 February to Saturday, with Eskom reporting the loss of three generating units overnight.
South Africans will, once again, have to endure a disruptive load shedding schedule for consecutive days, owing to Eskom’s problematic maintenance programme which has been unable to mitigate plant breakdowns. After most of the week’s power demand was successfully met – a rarity for Eskom in recent times – the embattled power utility announced, on Thursday morning, that its operational situation had been dealt a heavy blow.
While unplanned outages and plant breakdowns sapped almost 12 000MW from Eskom’s capacity, the utility’s emergency maintenance project slashed a further 4 654MW. In an attempt to avert load shedding earlier this week, Eskom exhausted its fuel reserves, which are used to supplement supply through the use of Open Cycle Gas Turbines (OCGT).
Unfortunately for Eskom, the South African public and the country’s already-beleaguered economy, fuel reserves have been completed depleted and, worse still; the probability of load shedding next week remains high.
Should Eskom be unable to keep the lights on during the last week of February, it would mean that South Africa’s energy grid has spent more time under load shedding than it has under sustainable operating capacity in 2020.
‘Junk’ status downgrade ‘inevitable’
Worryingly, this statistic paints a critically grim picture of the country’s economic prospects. It seems more likely that global ratings agency, Moody’s, will downgrade South Africa to ‘junk’ status – effectively repelling foreign investment and diminishing growth forecasts.
New Eskom CEO, Andre de Ruyter, has, however, warned South Africans that load shedding is likely to persist until late in 2021. De Ruyter, who appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts in Parliament earlier this week, reaffirmed the utility’s precarious position, noting that infrastructure maintenance remained a primary concern.
De Ruyter left to face the music, alone
De Ruyter added that emergency plant maintenance, coupled with general infrastructure upkeep, was being handled as a priority and that Eskom was working on a tight 18-month timeline.
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts was left fuming by the Eskom board’s nonchalant approach to the official meeting – slamming interim chairperson Malegapuru Makgoba for failing to attend. De Ruyter was left to take the heat independently. Committee chair Mkhuleko Hlengwa said:
“The committee is concerned with the reckless, irresponsible and careless manner in which the board elected not to appear before it as there was no apology and no explanation sent to the committee.
This is very concerning to Scopa as the board is the accounting authority.”
Eskom has vowed to keep South Africans up to date and informed should the load shedding schedules change.
Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER