No load shedding for the foreseeable future - Eskom | Fin24
 
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No load shedding for the foreseeable future - Eskom

Jul 19 2016 19:00
Lameez Omarjee

Johannesburg – Load shedding has not been a problem for Eskom for the past 11 months and the power utility projects that there will be no load shedding for the remainder of winter and possibly until March 2017.

This is according to chief executive Brian Molefe, who delivered the state of the quarter address at the POWER-GEN DistribuTECH Africa 2016 conference in Sandton on Tuesday.

“[Eskom] has sufficient generation capacity to meet demand,” said Molefe. The energy availability for June 2016 was reported at 81%, a record high since July 2013. Unplanned maintenance has also been reduced to 9.3%. The new capital build programme has increased generation capability. The power utility is working to stabilise the distribution network in the country to ensure customers have a continuous supply of electricity

Power outages that have been experienced in the winter months are largely due to the overloading of the distribution networks and technical faults, said group chairperson Baldwin Ngubane. The load shedding experienced last year was linked to generation. However, this year it's distribution systems and not generation which is the problem, explained Molefe.

“Power outages are not load shedding, but create an inconvenience to the customer’s quality of life,” acknowledged Ngubane. Eskom will be working to mitigate risk to the distribution system and will try to strengthen the network to minimise the impact of power outages when they occur, said Ngubane.

The failure of distribution systems was due to the impact of “localised” incidents related to cable theft, illegal connections and plant failure due to the overload of demand. “We have learnt lessons and will improve on them going forward,” said Molefe.

The power utility also managed to make the required replacements to damaged or failed equipment, and upgraded infrastructure in response to power outages. So far, 31 substations and 287 transformers have been repaired. “People work hard to ensure electricity is restored within six hours,” Molefe said.

The increased incidence of illegal connections is becoming a problem for Eskom and a more sustainable approach will be taken to address it, said Molefe.

“[Eskom] has the capability to electrify informal settlements, but must go through local municipalities to do so,” he explained. The company is awaiting a pending case before it can supply electricity to an informal settlement in Grabouw, which is on land owned by a nature conservation agency.

“If we can’t electrify a settlement, people resort to their own means.” So far there have been 228 arrests for activities related to illegal meter tampering, he said.

Eskom’s milestones

The power utility boasts financial stability and reliability of its electricity supply to South Africans. This is due to the dedication and commitment of management and its employees to stick to planned maintenance, said Ngubane.

Medupi Unit 5 is expected to be ready by March 2018, and Ingula units are ahead of schedule, said Ngubane. However, the dwindling coal supply remains a problem with year-on-year increases at 7%, according to Matshela Koko, group executive for generation.

In response to a question about a possible strike based on the outcome of wage negotiations, group executive of human resources Elsie Pule said wage negotiations have not “collapsed”. As Eskom supplies an essential service, the group does not anticipate a strike. There will be no impact on load shedding either, she said.

Molefe said the company would be moving to prepaid meters to solve the problem of payments in arrears. There have been 6 000 conversions in the Sandton and Midrand area so far and 32 000 are projected for March next year, said Ayanda Noah, group executive of customer service. 

eskom  |  load shedding  |  electricity  |  power generation  |  energy
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