Power utility Eskom says, they will procure emergency additional energy on Monday in order to keep South Africa’s lights on. This announcement was made during an emergency media briefing by Eskom group chief executive André de Ruyter on Sunday morning.
Eskom escalated load shedding to stage 6 early on Sunday morning because of unplanned load losses. Speaking at the briefing de Ruyter said, the grid was placed on serious pressure this week hence the power utility needs to now replenish reserves in order to maintain a safety buffer.
Stage 6 was implemented after the tripping of a generating unit each at Kusile and Kriel power stations.
Eskom has confirmed that the country will see a high level of power cuts in the coming days.
This due to a breakdown of generating units at Kusile, Arnot, Camden and Duvha power Stations.
De Ruyter says, they will aim to access about 1 000MW from existing independent power producers like Sasol and Sappi and hopes to have it online within two weeks.
“We have units out on planned maintenance of 7062. We have unit loses and partial load losses where we are running the unit but factors constrain us from using that unit at full capacity. The system has been under pressure as everybody knows since last week, This has caused us to run our reserves and our dams very hard,” says De Ruyter .
Eskom says, one of their biggest challenges is finding funds to purchase diesel to run power stations.
De Ruyter says, they have already utilised the current financial year’s budget..
“We have 32% diesel levels at ongeluk which is too low for comfort and we need to replenish that. Its is a fact that liquidity to buy diesel is a problem, in the past 5 months of this financial year, we also burnt our way to 7.7. billion rand of diesel which is the budget for the whole year. CFO has made available an additional 500 million rand to purchase more diesel”
He says they have ruled out the possibility of sabotage being linked to the tripping of power stations across the country. Following an urgent board meeting at the weekend, Eskom will on Monday begin the process of procuring additional energy.
“At this stage, I can give the assurance that we have not seen any evidence of untoward activity leading to this spat of trips. We had a meeting yesterday which included Minister Gordon. Tomorrow we approach the market to procure whatever megawatts are available on an urgent basis. We think that we can get about1000mg from available generation capacity that we cab tap into,” He says.
It’s been a week of rolling blackouts for South Africans. However is the situation likely to get worse for households and businesses? Eskom’s General Manager for the System Operator, Isabel Fick says load shedding stage 8 is the final level of load shedding.
“Beyond stage 8 what will happen is that we as the system operators will then instruct a number of megawatts to be taken off per province. And the instruction will be carried out by the various control centres of the municipalities and distributions on the provincial bases. That’s what will happen, but we do not have any other stages beyond stage 8.”
Meanwhile, the DA has called for the immediate return of President Cyril Ramaphosa to South Africa to address the electricity crisis.
Ramaphosa is currently on a US-UK visit, and is expected to attend Queen Elizabeth’s funeral in London on Monday.
DA Shadow Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Kevin Mileham says Ramaphosa has to declare a ring-fenced State of Disaster around Eskom…
“Over the past few weeks Ramaphosa has ignored several DA warnings that his energy response plan has veered off track due to the ineffective national electricity crisis committee. The national assembly speaker has refused to hold Ramaphosa and his executive accountable. She has ignored Da’s call to establish an ad hock committee to exercise oversight over the national electricity crisis committee and the implementation of the energy response plan. By so doing she has reduced parliament to a mere spectator on the electricity crisis and undermine parliament’s constitutional function to hold the executive to account,” says Mileham.
The CEO added that Eskom has asked municipalities to identify non-essential loads that can be switched off, like streets light that remain on in the day. High levels of load shedding are expected in the coming week.
Eskom is urging the country to use electricity sparingly.
Video: Eskom briefs the media on the current system challenges