Ramokgopa says there’s reduction in intensity of load shedding

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Despite the ongoing rolling blackouts, Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa says the country has seen the reduction in the intensity of load shedding in the past year.

The Electricity Minister says the developments can be attributed to six priority Eskom power stations that have gone through ramped up maintenance leading to improvement in the energy availability factor.

Plans are also at an advanced stage to see the extension of the country’s transmission lines to allow more energy generation, adding to efforts towards ending load shedding. Ramokgopa says the past 12 months have seen intensified efforts to ease rolling blackouts.

“The period of the Decembers 2022, 2023. December 2023, 2024, we’ve had about 1 200 hours of load shedding and essentially, we have been able to reduce the hours of load shedding by 600 hours. We are going in the right direction, ultimately, we want to get to a situation where I will be able to stand before the public and say we’ve not experienced any hours of load shedding,”

He says efforts to ramp up maintenance at Eskom power stations are starting to produce the desired results but there were also setbacks.

The Kendal Power Station experienced a contamination incident last Thursday leading to losses of generating capacity, an incident that saw load shedding heightened to stage 4.

But Ramokgopa says there’s been some improvement since then.

“Unit number 4 returned on the 23rd of February, unit number 3 returned on the 25th of February, on Sunday and we are expecting that Kendal 5 is going to return by later today midday towards late afternoon. So, essentially by close of business today we should have returned 3 of the 5 units and then we are expecting to return unit number 2 midweek and unit number 1 at Kendal is on planned maintenance. It’s important to have an appreciation that we are going to have temporary setbacks. This was a temporary setback.”

South Africa is also looking to bolster its power transmission network. The Minister announced a multi-stakeholder approach saying funding of about R400 billion has been secured for the 14 000 km transmission lines, the holdup being on structural issues.

“We are not sitting with a money problem; we are sitting with a structuring problem. How we are going to access that and the point we were making earlier on is that we are at an advanced stage. We need to complete that engagement internally; I must say to the country we’ve been moving with lightning speed,”

Eskom will see the new CEO Dan Marokane take office on the 1st of March with the power utility saying his main task will be to ensure an end to load shedding.

“We are waiting for Mr Dan Marokane to start on the first to lead us into the Eskom of the future, as you would know obviously his urgent task is to end load shedding and obviously ensure that the legal separation as we’ve been moving and achieved a lot in terms of that but just to finalize on what needs to be done for us to be able to finalize the legal separation and end load shedding as his urgent task, other than that we are waiting and excited,” says Daphne Mokoena, Eskom spokesperson.

The power utility continues to plead for patience from electricity users as it continues to grapple intermittent power disruptions. Government is confident in the multi stakeholder approach on transmission. The Minister expects efforts around the transmission development plan to start bearing fruit in the near future.

Video: Electricity Minister Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa briefs media on SA’s Energy Action Plan