Lack of maintenance by Eskom is reason for load shedding: Analyst

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Energy analyst Adil Nchabeleng says Eskom’s ageing infrastructure does not contribute to load shedding but rather the lack of maintenance by the power utility, along with the alleged decommissioning of power stations.

Eskom will resume Stage 4 load shedding at 09:00 on Wednesday following a fault at the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station outside Cape Town.

“It’s known the life of a power station, for instance, coal power stations can go up to even 100 years. In most countries, some of their power stations have been running for all that period. Every 15 years, you should actually have done a complete maintenance programme. The real issue is not the power plants’ age, the real issue is maintenance within Eskom which has not been happening. Repairs and making sure that when there are breakdowns there is attendance to those breakdowns. The other aspect of it is they have been switching off power stations within the national grid and they are not telling the nation the truth that we are actually decommissioning power stations forcefully,” says Nchabeleng.

Meanwhile, Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha, reiterated that the ageing infrastructure is the cause of the instability on the national grid.

“Eskom’s machines are quite old, unreliable and unpredictable. About 80% of them are over the age of 40 years so they keep breaking and we fix and then they keep breaking that’s just the reality of the matter. So in Cape Town, we had a break in the water pump that cools the generator and we lost 930 megawatts that added to the other breakdowns we had in the rest of the coal fleet,” says Mantshantsha.

Meanwhile, Eskom says within the next 60 days it will present its case for a tariff increase to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa).

This after the High Court in Pretoria’s ruling against Nersa, paving the way for the debt-riddled power utility to recover R27 billion from consumers.

On Tuesday, the court set aside Nersa’s tariff decision and granted Eskom leave to apply to Nersa for additional expenses incurred in the 2018/19 financial year.

Eskom had argued that Nersa’s tariff decisions were one of the major reasons why it was in a financial crisis.

“Eskom will now within the next 60 days get an opportunity to present its case to Nersa. Yes the reality of the matter, in the final analysis, is that we are looking for a higher tariff than we got,” says Mantshantsha.

In the video, Emfuleni Municipality is reported to owing Eskom R2.3 billion