Eskom’s capacity on the edge

2014-06-06 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — As the country is gripped by an icy cold front, Eskom’s supply capacity is currently on the edge.

Even if the demand increases just a little bit, it might have to start with controlled load shedding, acting CEO Collin Matjila said at a media briefing yesterday.

“We hope to avoid that, but it is a reality. We are still short of capacity. We will continue with our power alerts, but we are confident that, with the public’s support and the measures we have taken, we could beat the peak this winter,” he said.

He appealed to people, especially in townships, not to redirect electricity as it is not only dangerous, but also puts additional constraints on Eskom’s supply.

Eskom’s call on all South Africans to save energy is now louder than ever as the system will remain tight, warned Eskom chairperson Zola Tsotsi. “These are interesting times for Eskom as it is experiencing both challenges and new opportunities.”

He said SA’s economy is slowing to a sluggish growth rate and the strike in the platinum sector is further contracting the economy.

At the same time, Eskom estimates that due to the platinum strike the load on Eskom’s grid is currently about 400 MW less.

“Our power system, however, remains severely constrained and will remain vulnerable,” Tsotsi said.

“As we celebrate World Environment Day, we can take simple actions to be smart about the use of energy at work and at home.”

He said the fact that Eskom could keep the lights on during the past summer season — except for one day in March — is due to all South Africans having worked together.

“Thanks to all our customers who helped us to reduce our load when it was needed. Nothing is impossible if we work together to keep the lights on, especially between 5 pm and 9 pm at night,” he said.

Eskom is still looking for a new CEO and according to Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown, an appointment will be made as soon as possible.

Matjila said this winter is likely to be about the same as last winter.

“So, we are not expecting a severely cold winter, but winter is also a subjective issue, so we are taking measures to ensure we meet the demand which is usually greater in winter,” he said.

Matjila said attempts by some of South Africa’s neighbouring countries to reduce their 100% dependence on SA for electricity supply should also eventually reduce strain.

“We have been doing a lot of maintenance since the beginning of the year so we are confident that the grid will be able to meet the winter demand. We predict the load will be just below 36 Gigabytes,” he said.

Due to maintenance done prior to the winter months, Eskom now has an additional 1 000 MW available to help keep the lights on during the winter. — Fin24.

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