Eskom: It’s load-shedding or die

Eskom: It’s load-shedding or die

2015-01-18 17:51

Johannesburg - Eskom has finally abandoned its “lights on at all costs” policy – and not a moment too soon for its beleaguered, ageing power plants, City Press reported on Sunday.

For the foreseeable future, the state-owned power utility will have to shrink the country’s power supply before it can be restored to anything like its theoretical capacity.

Heavy power users, organised as the Energy Intensive User Group (EIUG), are pleased with Eskom’s new approach.

“The most positive thing is that they are now telling the truth,” EIUG spokesperson Shaun Nel told City Press.

The EIUG has long called for load shedding to be imposed in a more business-friendly way.

That means having residential users take more of the load shedding burden instead of going directly to power-hungry smelters for ad hoc demand reductions.

Now that really doesn’t matter any more, said Nel.

“The magnitude [of the proposed load shedding] is such that no one will be spared. It is going to affect everyone.

“What you had before was secret load shedding. Since 2013, Eskom has been making significant calls for voluntary cutbacks. They said they were keeping the lights on, but that just wasn’t true,” he added.

In the past seven years, essential maintenance work on power stations has been pushed back or rushed, creating an inevitable downward spiral.

From now on Eskom will instead carry out maintenance “at all costs”. That was the crux of new Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona’s first “state of the system” briefing on Thursday.

The long-overdue decision follows a rapid escalation in plant breakdowns from last year.

READ: Eskom CEO: SA's reserve tank almost exhausted

On a good day Eskom can now only deliver about 71% of its 43 300 megawatt installed capacity. On a bad day that falls down to 65%.

Good days are becoming increasingly rare. “Unplanned outages” have escalated to take down as much as a fifth of the system on any given day.

Eskom has to find the wriggle room for repairs and has only two options: get more power, or enforce more load shedding.

The wriggle room needed is 5 000MW – enough power for 1 million middle-income households and about a sixth of Eskom’s entire current generation.

It is incidentally almost exactly what the long-delayed Medupi station will generate when it is eventually completed.

In his presentation this week, Matona implicitly tried to defend the Medupi delay, which is now reaching three years.

He said delays were practically the rule for big power stations, even in so-called advanced economies.

For industrial power users, the new situation is actually worse than the initial power crisis of 2008, when Eskom tried to impose a system of power rationing.

Then, Eskom proposed that users should phase down their power demands to 10% below 2007 levels.

Seven years on, it’s no longer possible to be that precise. Supply is wildly fluctuating because of the unplanned outages, which makes it hard to plan for anything, except the worst-case scenario.

EIUG’s Nel said the next step would be the fast-tracking of cogeneration agreements to allow various factories to sell power that they generated using waste gasses into the grid.

An increase in private power generation was very likely, Nel said.

READ: Eskom shifts blame to public, says body

With the blame now being laid on the “lights on at all cost” policy, Matona remained cautious about pointing fingers.

He is not “judging” his predecessors.

At the briefing, Eskom chairperson Zola Tsotsi said that the policy was already dropped in principle by the utility in 2013, an act of defiance against the government.

Eskom’s finances are in a similarly dire state and the finer details of the government bailout announced last year are yet to be finalised.

As things stand, government is due to reveal all manner of interventions.

In September last year, Treasury announced a financial support package, including new equity that will be raised by “leveraging non-strategic assets”.

An analyst at Barclays this week caused a stir by suggesting the government can collect R86 billion in cash to shore up Eskom by selling all the listed shares in private companies it still owns.

These were the “non-strategic assets” to sell, the bank suggested in a research note.

The problem with this idea is that these shares are mostly held by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and are crucial to its self-sustainability.

The Barclays proposal in essence means sinking the IDC to buttress Eskom. The IDC, unsurprisingly, rubbished the idea this week.

A second tranche of state interventions is planned, under the banner of cabinet’s five-point plan announced last month.

This includes a new plan to source 2 500MW from privately generated coal power as well as cogeneration from other industries that create gas that can be used for power generation.

ALSO READ: Fear of unforeseen system collapse

  • Jon van der Heever - 2015-01-18 18:04

    Precisely...load shedding wouldn't even been an option if they just get the private sector involved! I wonder where these people's brains are? Greed...that's the only reason this country is plummeting into oblivion!

      Mike Heyns - 2015-01-18 18:15

      I'll repeat my comment from last night if you don't mind? Monday Eksdom Headline: "No rolling blackouts over summer" Tuesday Eksdom Headline: "No rolling blackouts the next three months" Wednesday Eksdom Headline: "No rolling blackouts this month" Thursday Eksdom Headline: "No rolling blackouts this week" Saturday Eksdom Headline: "No rolling blackouts over this weekend" Sunday (tomorrow) Eksdom Headline: "No rolling blackouts today" Monday (coming) Eksdom Headline: "No rolling blackouts the next hour" Tuesday (coming) Eksdom Headline: "No current rolling blackouts" Finally ........ From Wednesday(next week) Eksdom Headline: "SA announced Nuclear provider from Russia due to continuous black outs! Tariffs to increase by 100%. Reactors will be operational in three years time!"

      Clement Raymond Moropodi - 2015-01-18 18:38

      Mike Heyns, Eskom says one thing and do the complete opposite. Thank God they're not in telecommunications otherwise we wouldn't handle the mixed signals!

      Mike Heyns - 2015-01-18 18:57

      Haha Clement: You are so right! If they were telecoms, we would all be calling ourselves!!?

      Piet Pompies - 2015-01-18 19:46

      Cut power to neighboring countries then there wouldn't be load shedding in SA .... Da

      Wouter Swannie ThePirate Swanepoel - 2015-01-18 20:08

      The ANC and it's deployed cadres should take full blame and responsibility for this act of national sabotage. As a consumer and a tax payer, I am NOT prepared to pay a cent more for their (never-ending) blunders. We have brought road tolling to its knees in Gauteng, we can bring this farce to a stop too through public defiance, and finally get rid of the useless, corrupt ANC in the next elections. Wake up my brothers and sisters!

      Made Inthe South - 2015-01-18 21:15

      The reality is that as long as Zuma783 and the ZANC is there,you ,the taxpayer will be Speared.ZANC made money out of the building of Medupi and Kusile,because their investment arm Chancellor House owned Hitachi Power Africa that had the R38 Billion contract for the boilers.That projects are now late because of strikes and faulty welding to the boilers,which had to be rectified by overseas welders. Now they will use this crisis,ZANC created,to justify the building of Russian nuclear reactors.So Chancellor House and the cadres can get tenders again.ZANC keep on winning.And if you followed the news,the Guptas are getting an uranium mine off the ground,in anticipation of the nuclear build

      Narian Chengiah Naidoo - 2015-01-19 04:40

      They are sitting on their brains.

      Revelgen - 2015-01-19 09:55

      The ANC, though their uselessness, laziness and lack of strategic planning are now busy wrecking hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of jobs of the very people that voted them in. It is time that the ANC humbled themselves and admitted that their politically-appointed cadres have very little clue about how to run a modern country, and allowed competent people (of all colours) to take charge. But, no, there's still some money left in the public kitty to steal.....

  • Jeremy Forbes - 2015-01-18 18:07

    The solution is to privatise ESKOM, but of course it will then cease to be the playground and cash cow of the ruling elite and they will resist this at all costs.

  • Pierre Nortje - 2015-01-18 18:10

    ANC cadre employment doing its damnest - just fire the morons in charge ...

  • Emone Nomore - 2015-01-18 18:11

    T total mess up. For all those supporters of the ANC, I hope you are realizing the mess you have put SA in. Many people are already losing jobs due to load shedding. And its going to get worse. This could have been avoided if we had a Government that understood what it was doing.

      denise.coates.98 - 2015-01-18 19:47

      And tourism will go to pot,,,, less income and more job losses

  • mmmmTim - 2015-01-18 18:11

    The cANCer government must hate the reality that in the lead up to the next elections, every day the people will be reminded, by virtue of regular load shedding, that the cANCer government has failed to keep the lights on. They will watch their voters disappear in masses, regardless of how many t-shirts and food parcels they dish out.

      Peter Storbeck - 2015-01-18 19:40

      Their voters have the attention span of a goldfish. Free t shirts the day before elections and it is all good.

      Stephen AndKathy Whiteley - 2015-01-18 20:09

      Except that they never got the t-shirts before the last election, but only last December. S

  • Michael Hugh Blake - 2015-01-18 18:12

    Welcome to the third world. When the ANC took over in 1994 there was no way their third world qualifications could drive a first world infrastructure. With all the will in the world (which they don't have) they still have no idea how to manage and maintain an infrastructure so far in advance of their mud hut status, let alone develope it further. Twenty years after the ANC took control there is still not a single indication that they will confound the pundits to transform this floundering country into anything more than another failed African state.

  • Robbie Novella - 2015-01-18 18:15

    Interesting- 3 years delay which is the norm even in advance economies- 1 question. How then could the Japanese nation repair/ build ALL the damage caused by the last tsumani in less than 3 years- I think the report mentioned something like 6 months(?). How would this S.O.E fare in that situation?

  • - 2015-01-18 18:16

    Privatise ALL government run entities, at least then we can get through this black hole , and provide employment to people who are actually qualified for their positions

  • michael.dempsey.9279 - 2015-01-18 18:17

    So what's happened to the big yearly increases you forced us to pay. You promised that 5 years ago and you've done NOTHING!!

  • Stephen AndKathy Whiteley - 2015-01-18 18:23

    Electricity and water have proved the worst casualties of the transition to fully franchised democracy. The ANC leadership believed that the organizational ability of the previous regime consisted of sitting in an office and waiting for wisdom, hence its abolition of trade schools and obsession over matriculation. Even today schoolchildren are not encouraged to do what they are good at. Succeeding leaders of the Party will be free from these illusions, if the Party lasts that long. S

  • - 2015-01-18 18:26

    Thank you to the 60% that voted for corruption and mismanagement. Much appreciated. Power utility in trouble, no water, crime out of control, all we need is a war and we will be on par with the rest of Africa

  • Marius Koen - 2015-01-18 18:28

    Atlast the truth comes out, why the lights on at all costs approach. How many people in anycase didn't even bother about eskoms warnings and continued wasting electricity. Now itleast we can start preparing ourselves for minmal electricity and by that i mean for myself going of the grid. I will now put all my effort to go of the grid.

  • Werner Nel - 2015-01-18 18:31

    Clearly this is a wakeup call to abandon BEE. Best person for the job!

      Louis van Zyl - 2015-01-18 18:36

      Never admit you are wrong. You might send the wrong message to the masses. Oh my goodness. Who will vote for us?

  • chimooneh.carstens - 2015-01-18 18:33

    Blame everyone!!!!! But yourself!!!!! Take responsibility !!!!!

  • Clement Raymond Moropodi - 2015-01-18 18:36

    I pray that Eskom says something different the next time it opens it's mouth. Otherwise it must shut the f*@k up and fix the mess quietly. Talking to the media every second minute will not make the crisis less serious, you know

  • Graham Johnson - 2015-01-18 18:39

    About bl__dy time! At last a chance to carry out proper maintenance and not running patch up repairs.

  • Kamal Vanmari - 2015-01-18 18:42

    @DDE Gov... The same stupid, incompetent 60% will toi toi, strike etc because they not getting what they voted for.... Zuma, Jacob Zuma (I'm not scared to say his name) doesn't care.... Not even one bit.... But there has to be a way to get him out of power.... His incompetent ways and zero knowledge has now crippled SA...

      denise.coates.98 - 2015-01-18 19:55

      A quote from the newspaper: the brain could revolve inside a peanut shell for 1,000 years without touching sides!

  • Vlieg Von Pletzen - 2015-01-18 18:43

    im getting kinda bored of these eskom games !load shed if you want ,i have my plan in order when you do , maybe read a book (under candlelight ) do some meditation ,or spend some quality time with the family,or take a walk ,or exercise or have (s) don't dare to say that as news 24 will delete my comment

      Vlieg Von Pletzen - 2015-01-18 19:07

      and while im posting , well done to AB ,you have proven that circumstances don't control you

      Revelgen - 2015-01-19 10:00

      Vlieg, what are you doing about your refrigerator/freezer, assuming you have one? 2 or 3 days without electricity, and your food will all be going bad?

  • Paul Raad - 2015-01-18 18:47

    How about shrinking the neighboring states electricity, as well as giving free electricity to those that are not paying for it. Why must the south african's always have to suffer ???

  • Chris Bothma - 2015-01-18 18:54

    Actually it was all costs and no lights. Next time you have to choose between paying bonuses to yourself or do maintenance, choose maintenance!

  • L Govender - 2015-01-18 18:57

    useless incompetent lazy fools at the helm that need a kick up their arses. unacceptable.

  • Julia Griffiths - 2015-01-18 19:00

    Truth is only as much as you are told & that which you believe or understand. Escom is pulling the wool over our eyes

  • Michael Freeman - 2015-01-18 19:01

    Eskom shifts blame to public. Can Eskom please advise the public the following 1)How much they have paid in Rand value to outgoing past executives in the past 20 years? 2)How much they have paid in Rand value to top executives in the past 20 years for performance bonuses for which is in fact non- performance? 3)When are they going to remove all the illegal electricity connections we see and read about on News 24 or do they have the blessing of the ANC?

      Anakin Stealthwalker - 2015-01-18 20:03

      Electricity theft is quite astonishing:

  • Desmond Jones - 2015-01-18 19:05

    It is not any race that is going to sink South Africa it is incompetence.

  • Kevin Pearson - 2015-01-18 19:05

    We have load shedding but my electricity bill went up by R300

  • Riaan Werner Van Wyk - 2015-01-18 19:11

    as long as load shedding is well coordinated and they keep with the schedule, and street lights are off during daytime, but based on past experiences that might be too much to ask from Eksdom.

  • Cecelia Hambides Rosa - 2015-01-18 19:16

    Contingency plan after the fact!

  • Annie Gieselbach - 2015-01-18 19:23

    I do not know why we comment here on N24... It is not as if EKSDOM is going to see it.

      Kevin Lowings - 2015-01-18 22:14

      That's true. Probably have to draw pictures cause they can't read anyway

  • Peter Storbeck - 2015-01-18 19:37

    So, Dames basically lied to all of us to get his R20 million golden handshake. We also have the R 43 million Gupta "breakfast" sponsorship (no doubt only sponsoring the Gupta's themselves) and a parastal paying the highest average salary of any company in the country at R630,000pa. On top of all of this we are going to spend over R40 million for the World Economic Forum via Eksdom. All this while paying over 360% more for power than January 2010. Thank you ANC voters. Idiots.

  • Searcher SA - 2015-01-18 19:47

    Great job ANC, what a joke you have made of SA.

      Revelgen - 2015-01-19 10:01

      A really BAD joke...

  • Dirk Venter - 2015-01-18 19:53

    He forgot to blame apartheid and to say something racist against whites

  • Xenswim1 - 2015-01-18 20:15

    First off cut the power to those who do not pay and keep it off until the country recovers. L:et Soweto's residence sort out the electricity theft. Once you cut off the electricity supply they will come to Eskom in droves to report illegal connections.

  • robert.barrie.948 - 2015-01-18 20:24

    Time has come to take action against previous executives and put them behind bars - they are criminals

  • Sifiso Myeni - 2015-01-18 20:26

    With technical stuff, you can hide the truth up to a point and no further. Politics and technology don't mix. The inevitable ultimately manifests itself - blackouts!!!

  • Kevin James - 2015-01-18 20:36

    It's jan van riebeek! He hasn't been doing maintenance

      Kevin Lowings - 2015-01-18 22:11

      And I'm sure his ship had illegal connections!

  • Nathan Elston - 2015-01-18 21:00

    In general natives dont like paying maintenance

  • nelio - 2015-01-18 21:02

    So those huge tariff increases was only used to pay bigger bonuses??

      Kevin Lowings - 2015-01-18 22:10

      You didn't think they were for something constructive did you? When it's run by a bunch of self satisfyingly bigots who wouldn't know the truth if it slapped them in the face all we can expect will be Eskom bosses with really big cars and massive bonuses, not professional management

      Nellie Dixon - 2015-01-19 14:16

      Exactly. They did say we must live with it and get use to it. Any body knows if a person can do a job there's no stopping him. If you don't know or understand a job your job will be to make excuses after the other.

  • Calvin Bradley Chisnall - 2015-01-18 21:24

    Ok so load shedding obviously will become the norm at 3hrs a day per area,So are we going to actually get a proper timetable printout with times and days so we can maybe just maybe plan daily stuff around times or are we going to sit with fully random times again then will just go off whenever its convenient for eskom?Load shedding for 3 hours a day is manageable in a way when we're given indications of what times it will be,Because the one on site is old and rubbish and never gets followed through

  • Gregg P Cornell - 2015-01-18 21:30

    Disconnect the illegal connections of stolen electricity and you won't have to load shed, you have admitted twice now that without the stolen power there would be no load shedding.

  • catcha.wakeup - 2015-01-18 21:32

    2 weeks ago this idiot said there is no crisis.

  • David Fourie - 2015-01-18 21:38

    Disconnected people who have not paid. Simple consumer law. If the residents of soweto should be treated exactly the same as the residents in Sandton.

  • Alton Small - 2015-01-18 22:00

    Illegal connections still take place who checks that while we pay for those rubbishes, even prepaid has become difficult To buy a 100rand token is ridiculous when you load the power it actually converts to 79 killowats so can some please tell me how the hell do I save power when the damn cost of the thing is so bladder high.

  • Craig Dennis - 2015-01-18 22:07

    First let's get Zuma's to apologize for his outrageous "blame it on apartheid" statement. Then let's track down the ex Eskom technician's who have been made redundant. Then a war on illegal connections. And all municipalities in arrears must be disconnected from the grid. We should then have lots of spare capacity.

  • Shumi Lezandla - 2015-01-18 22:20

    First disconnect illegal connections and save electricity,you can not solve the problem while you let the contributing factor to continue to disturb the system

      Jonathan Els - 2015-01-19 23:19

      This is an impossibly weak argument as this contributes so little the national energy crisis. It is akin to arguing for low watt household bulbs to lower carbon emissions and solve global climate change. The reality is that we South Africans are to blame. We repeatedly voted full confidence in this level of parastatal management in the last 15 years despite painfully obvious signs of maladministration. Quit frankly, we deserve the energy crisis that we currently sit with.

  • catcha.wakeup - 2015-01-18 22:40

    How many illegal connections to electricity you see in Sandton? They have been charged or out to jail.

  • Bryan Coulter - 2015-01-18 22:47

    Obviously they have no clue how many small buinesses operate from residential areas..

  • Bryan Coulter - 2015-01-18 22:54

    Isn't it amazing... the people most affected by the incompetence of the ANC and Eskom are the people that pay the bills. The illigal connections, municipalities and people who think it's their right to get free electricity are never affected and couldn't care.

  • Leon Coetzee - 2015-01-18 23:54

    Slowly getting there ... there being the end of the line for this country !! I read an article earlier about how food production, storage and distibution is also suffering majorly under the current power crises ... imagine the chaos when something as simle as food or the provision of water is derailed ... omfg!!

  • Graham Grant Hayward - 2015-01-19 06:38

    Time to pay off some poor staff

  • Graham Grant Hayward - 2015-01-19 06:42

    Hey wait.The last person is not out yet.Come on ! Wait a bit longer first.

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