Eskom’s power struggle

2013-11-20 00:00

ESKOM is struggling to keep the lights on while it services its power- generating units.

Yesterday, the company published a load-shedding schedule for use if the grid became too stressed.

Eskom spokesperson Andrew Etzinger said the utility found itself more vulnerable to “unplanned events” due to maintenance being done on some units.

He said they were now using all available power plants to shore up the national grid, and had asked big customers to reduce usage by 10%.

In a statement, the company said customers should switch off geysers, pool pumps, air-conditioning and all non-essential appliances from 5 pm to 9 pm.

“Eskom is now following the protocol in terms of its emergency procedures in order to secure the power system. We have alerted our key industrial customers and have required them to reduce their load by a minimum of 10%,” the statement read.

It said as a precautionary measure, it had published on its website load-shedding schedules for Eskom’s direct customers, which would remain in place for the duration of the constrained supply.

“While we will make every effort to avoid load-shedding, we are hopeful that by applying these measures we will achieve the required load reduction necessary to protect the national grid,” Eskom said.

An official at Eskom, who asked not to be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media, said: “We are running flat out.

“There are two types of power stations — the ones that use coal which supply you and me with electricity, and we have the diesel stations that we use only in emergencies. At this stage, we are also using the diesel stations.”

The official said load-shedding would be implemented as a last resort. “There is a protocol that we follow. We normally ask our big customers like mines and BHP Billiton to reduce their usage by 10%. If they do that, there is no need for load-shedding, but if for some reason they cannot, then we resort to load-shedding.”

The source said there was nothing untoward with the servicing of the power stations that are currently out of commission. “In summer, we normally take some of our units down for repairs.”

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