Plant maintenance can trigger load shedding, Eskom warns

Eskom will attempt to avoid load shedding in the coming summer months, the power utility said on Wednesday. It has now been 164 days since the last bout of load shedding. 

However, plant maintenance which often takes place during the summer time may trigger outages, the utility said as it presented its status report of the electricity system.

"Most of our power stations are in need of maintenance to improve reliability... we do our best to strike the right balance between plant maintenance and keeping the lights on," said Eskom chairperson and acting CEO Jabu Mabuza.

"While the risk of load shedding always exists, we remain confident that we are on the right course," said Mabuza, who assumed the acting CEO role following the resignation of Phakamani Hadebe.

The utility, whose rising debt which is threatening public finances,  has put in place a 9-point "recovery plan", in a bid to clean up its crippling operational challenges.

It reported a net loss after tax of R20.7bn for the 2019 financial year, with outstanding municipal debt rising to some R20bn.

Chief financial officer Caleb Cassim says Eskom currently owes R450bn, and needs to raise R46bn. 

The company said there has been significant contribution from both commercial and non-commercial unit among power stations, with non commercial units delivering over 1 000 MW in the last six months.

Chief operating officer, Jan Oberhozer, says all of its power stations had "healthy levels" of coal stockpiles, except for one facility.

"We got lots of coal, now we need to deal with the quality," he said.

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