Medupi and Kusile coal power plants are 'badly designed', says Pravin Gordhan

Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan. (Yunus Mohamed/Photo24)
Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan. (Yunus Mohamed/Photo24)

Two new coal-fired power plants being built in South Africa, which will be the continent’s largest once completed, are "badly designed and badly constructed", Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said as the country reels under a third day of rolling blackouts.

State-owned power utility Eskom "encapsulates the challenge of where developmental state institutions can go wrong," Gordhan told Parliament on Tuesday.

The utility cut electricity supplies to prevent total collapse of the grid as unscheduled maintenance reduced output.

The Medupi and Kusile plants, which were supposed to add almost 9 600MW to the grid and be fully operational in 2015, are still years away from completion. Their projected costs have more than doubled to R292.5bn.

The return to blackouts compounds worries about Eskom’s precarious position and the threat it poses to the economy. It’s also an embarrassment for the ruling African National Congress just three months ahead of national elections.

Gordhan and Eskom Chairman Jabu Mabuza have approached Enel SpA, Italy’s biggest power utility, to provide technical help to assess the problems, and the company will send engineers to South Africa soon, the minister said in prepared comments sent by email.

Units belonging to at least six power plants including the two new facilities and Arnot, Kriel, Duvha, Matla and Grootvlei weren’t in service today, with Eskom having 27 305MW of capacity available to meet peak demand of 30 033 MW, Gordhan said.

ZAR/USD
17.05
(-0.04)
ZAR/GBP
21.32
(-0.35)
ZAR/EUR
19.29
(-0.71)
ZAR/AUD
11.89
(-0.45)
ZAR/JPY
0.16
(-0.14)
Gold
1779.10
(+0.23)
Silver
18.22
(+1.19)
Platinum
826.32
(+2.24)
Brent Crude
42.85
(0.00)
Palladium
1913.00
(+0.04)
All Share
54833.62
(+0.57)
Top 40
50482.84
(+0.60)
Financial 15
10153.44
(+0.03)
Industrial 25
76394.57
(-0.21)
Resource 10
51118.29
(+1.96)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo
Company Snapshot
Voting Booth
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
I'm not really directly affected
18% - 1637 votes
I am taking a hit, but should be able to recover in the next year
23% - 2145 votes
My finances have been devastated
34% - 3204 votes
It's still too early to know what the full effect will be
25% - 2326 votes
Vote