/ 27 January 2022

Load-shedding on the cards as Eskom prioritises maintenance

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Eskom told the Mail & Guardian it had only received a R9 billion World Bank loan to decommission its coal-fired Komati power station. (Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

South Africa may soon be affected by rolling blackouts again because of planned maintenance by state power utility Eskom.

The country has not had load-shedding since November last year. 

“We will continue with the planned maintenance and it may contribute to the risk of load-shedding, but we have taken a decision and will stick to that decision because we need to invest in the future,” Eskom chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer told a state of the system briefing on Thursday.

The objective of the planned maintenance programme is to achieve a reliable and sustainable generation plant and this will reduce the risk and frequency of the occurrence of load shedding. 

The planned maintenance programme will contribute to the risk of load-shedding during times of capacity constraints, according to Oberholzer.

“We will do whatever we can to limit load-shedding, because we do understand the impact thereof on the country and on the lives of 60-million people,” he said.

“I can assure you that we have dedicated and committed colleagues who fully understand this mandate and they will do what they need to make sure we improve the performance of generation.”

“The generation side of the business remains very challenging due to plant unreliability and unpredictability contributing to numerous breakdowns,” he added.

Oberholzer said the utility was behind on planned maintenance, with 91.29% completed as opposed to the year-to-date target of 93%. Completion of the planned maintenance programmes remains a crucial focus area for the utility.

“We are doing our best to limit load-shedding, but not at the cost of doing effective planned maintenance. When you do not need to use electricity please refrain from doing so,” he cautioned. 

Anathi Madubela is an Adamela Trust business reporter at the M&G.