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eThekwini load-shedding exemption 'will change soon', warns De Ruyter

Eskom has burnt 40-million litres of diesel in May, says COO Jan Oberholzer

Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter says demand for electricity has moved to a typical winter pattern. File photo.
Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter says demand for electricity has moved to a typical winter pattern. File photo.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

Eskom says the exemption from load-shedding for the eThekwini municipality, which was hit by devastating floods last month, could soon change as this was under review.

“The eThekwini municipality has almost recovered its operations in terms of distribution in the regions affected by the floods. It is not being load-shed but this will change soon and the teams, Eskom and eThekwini municipality are reviewing the situation,” said Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha.

Eskom CEO André de Ruyter on Monday gave an update on the state of the system and challenges faced by the power utility.

De Ruyter said there was a significant shortfall of capacity to meet demand for the evening peaks and, as a consequence, the outlook was for stage 3 load-shedding to be implemented from 5pm to 10pm on Monday and Tuesday.

“We have 2,094MW out on planned maintenance. The total unplanned losses are sitting at 16,307MW, which is a very high number when we have demand expected for evening peaks,” he said.

De Ruyter said demand for electricity had moved to a typical winter pattern.

“It’s only a constraint we have during the peak. We can cope with demand during the day. We understand that after 5pm the effect on the domestic consumer is particularly pronounced and that is highly regrettable,” he said.

He said overall performance had been quite disappointing.

“We are going to try measures to improve the performance of our generation systems. The performance is not acceptable and we cannot continue to impose load-shedding, certainly not at the levels at the moment.

“Our reserves are looking in reasonable shape but we have to bear in mind we have to top up our peak demand with burning diesel at our open-cycle gas turbines. We have another vessel that will dock at Saldanha on May 24, so we have to manage our diesel inventories very carefully to ensure we do not lose our emergency reserves.

“Our dams are looking healthy, so our reserves are in reasonable shape but it is the full load losses we see across the generation fleet that are hampering us and making it very difficult to meet demand.”

Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer said while the outlook was for stage 3 load-shedding to be implemented on Monday, “it may increase if there are additional breakdowns. For tomorrow, we are foreseeing stage 3, and then stage 2 on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.”

He also addressed the need to burn diesel to keep the lights on.

“Our off-site stock level for Cape Town is about 12-million litres. We are burning 2-million litres per day. It is a significant burn and for the month to date we have burnt 40-million litres already, so we have to look that we don’t run out of diesel,” he said.

Interim group executive for generation Rhulani Mathebula said the system was volatile.

“We have experienced a number of failures over the weekend which has led to the situation we are facing. Boiler tube leaks remain our key thing in terms of our failures and resulting in generators taking time to return. There is a refocus on that, relooking at our strategies and our root causes to make sure we can curb this common trend of boiler tube leaks, especially at big stations like Majuba and Lethabo,” he said.


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