Eskom targets five key priorities to ease load shedding

Eskom board member, Mteto Nyati, says the power utility and its board is working intently on five key priorities to improve the performance of power stations and ease load shedding as swiftly as possible.

He was speaking on Thursday during a media briefing to update South Africans on the challenges facing the power utility.

Nyati said there are priorities that require day-to-day focus, whilst others require the power utility to be “slightly more strategic”.

The five priorities include the 24-month generation recovery plan, which has two key elements.

“The first [element] is to make sure that we have and we guard the performance at the current flagship power stations. There are four power stations that are doing very well [and] it is very important that we look after these power stations. The second one is to make sure that the top six power stations where we continue to have challenges, we focus on them [and] we drive a thorough maintenance programme at those top six power stations. It is important for us to remain focused and deliver on that plan,” Nyati said.

The second priority for the board is planned and unplanned outages, including at Koeberg unit 1 – which has a generating capacity of some 920MW – and the three Kusile power station units, which have been offline since October, taking with them some 2 160MW of generating capacity.

“In terms of Koeberg 1, which is a planned outage and is up to this point going in line with the plan, it is important that we deliver and we bring that back when it is supposed to come back [without] delays because it will add a significant amount of stability that we need.

“The Kusile 1, 2 and 3 that are unplanned outages… up to now, we’re looking at some of these coming back only about a year from now. It is important that we look at ways and means of accelerating the fixing of these units. There may be things that are required such as exemptions. We, as the board… need to look… at means to get those exemptions,” Nyati said.

He revealed that the “people and culture” of Eskom is another top priority for the board.

“We have a majority of Eskom employees who are great people doing exceptional work, who are so committed to this company and are also committed to the country. It is important that we continue to support them, so that can help us to execute this recovery plan.

“It is also important that we find ways and means of incentivising them so that they continue to do what is required, as this…planned maintenance is being executed,” Nyati said.

Another top priority for the board is having funds to purchase the diesel used to run Eskom’s open cycle gas turbines (OCGTs), which are critical in staving off at least one stage of load shedding.

“We cannot afford to run out of funds for diesel throughout this period so… we as the board, together with management, are looking at ways and means of making sure that we have the funding because running those [OCGTs] is important for us to be able to provide and reduce the level or the stages of load shedding,” he said.

Nyati stressed that working with government is another top priority for the power utility.

“The government enablers… are so important for us to get to an environment where we are able to bring in new capacity and negotiating, and engaging with various stakeholders in government on behalf of management is something that we are prioritising,” he said.

Meanwhile, load shedding is expected to be downgraded to Stage 4 from Friday, with further de-escalation to Stage 3 on Saturday.

This after Eskom escalated the rolling power cuts to Stage 6 and Stage 5 this week following breakdowns at several generating units.

Source: South African Government News Agency