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'Significant milestones' welcomed just in time for holidays

Electricity minister says Xmas lights should flicker — but in a good way

Bobby Jordan Senior reporter
Minister of Electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa.
Minister of Electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

Eskom has ramped up planned maintenance of its ageing power stations on the back of a steadily improved performance compared with six months ago, electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said on Sunday.

A decrease in unplanned outages allowed for more maintenance activity, thereby increasing long-term grid stability, Ramokgopa said. 

“This is important that we can do maintenance — the more you delay you are kicking the can down the road and it will catch up with you and you will experience rapid failure of these units,” he said.

Failure to maintain South Africa’s power stations is one of the main causes of persistent load-shedding that has hampered the economy for more than a decade.

Ramokgopa also highlighted various other recent power supply milestones, including the appointment of Eskom CEO Dan Marokane for a five-year term, and the release of the country’s Integrated Resource Plan for public comment.

Marokane’s appointment augured well for further power supply progress, Ramokgopa said. “Certainly it is key in the resolution of a crisis of this magnitude.

“He is going to hit the ground running — the learning curve is steep,” he said.

Planned outages had reduced by about 3,000MW compared with levels in May, which allowed more leeway in terms of accelerating planned maintenance. 

The minister also acknowledged the recent Gauteng North High Court ruling that load-shedding of various essential services is unconstitutional.

He said the government would not abrogate its responsibilities and was working to ensure it had a plan in place to meet the court’s January 31 deadline to ensure essential services were ring-fenced from load-shedding interruption.

“We have no intention of abrogating our responsibility or making an argument that seeks to suggest that we don’t carry a constitutional obligation that these (essential service) establishments get an uninterrupted power supply,” Ramokgopa said. 


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