Electricity Minister Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa is continuing his site visits at all 14 Eskom power stations nationally, with the goal of getting to the bottom of the problems at each site by gathering feedback and insight from management, workers, and unions.
On Wednesday, Ramokgopa spent the day locked in closed-door meetings with the team at the Tutuka Power Station in Standerton, Mpumalanga – one of the worst performing plants, and where a 2022 Eskom forensic report confirmed suspected cases of sabotage where employees had maliciously damaged equipment.
Ramokgopa has committed to minimising the impact of load shedding this coming winter. He claims he’s geared to resolve this to ensure that he halved load shedding stages by winter.
“Management has committed that we are going to move from 25% to 70% and make sure that we got a number of units operating and make sure that we have enough through the winter. They have shared with us the days that these units will come on stream. So the message I would like to convey to South Africans is that we now know the scale of the problem. And we are working to end load shedding.”
Tutuka generates over 3100 MW
Taking stock of the problems at this power station, Tutuka has a generating capacity of over 3100 MW, but it’s only producing a fraction of that.
Poor coal quality, sabotaging of infrastructure, low staff morale, aging and dilapidated equipment that breaks down often, and theft of oil and copper cables have rendered the plant inert.
Ramokgopa says, “This is one of the worst performing power stations, and we will engage with staff to make sure we bring back at least 3000mw of generation. This is the one plant where corruption is rife. So, we are dealing with it. There is also an issue of coal quality here.”
The minister says with all the interventions they plan to put in place, blackouts could be a thing of the past by winter.
“Yes, we will do station by station, unit by unit and management has given us their plan on how they will move from 25% to 70% generation capacity. We now know the scale of the problem and issues that face this power station,” says Ramokgopa.
The acting power station manager, Mxolisi Ntanzi says plans are in place to ensure that all six turbines are back in operation by the end of the month.
“So right now, we have been running fewer units. Now, we have a plan. We were running three out of six but two more have been uploaded and the last one is still under maintenance and will be running from the 6th of April,” says Ntanzi.
Ntanzi says getting the plant back to peak capacity will improve staff morale and provide much-needed electricity onto the grid.
“This is what we have been waiting for to get leadership from the minister. He is here to assist us and not judge us.”
From Tutuka, the Electricity Minister will move to Lethabo and Koeberg plants to assess the state of things there.
Minister Ramokgopa to visit Eskom’s Tutuka Power Station: