Eskom keeping eye on upsurge in power demand

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe at the African Utility Week in Cape Town on Tuesday.
Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe at the African Utility Week in Cape Town on Tuesday.

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe told SAfm journalist and talk host Stephen Grootes on Thursday morning that power demand remained high and that Eskom would continue to conduct unit maintenance where needed.

South Africans took to various social media platforms to complain that the alerts for load shedding had been prolonged. Phasiwe said this was done because some power units had tripped and were in need of maintenance.

Load shedding jitters come as Eskom continues negotiations with the National Union of Mineworkers,the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and Solidarity, after the unions rejected a 4.7% wage increase offer from Eskom.

However, units were brought back online and the country got through Wednesday evening without Eskom implementing stage 1 load shedding. He told Grootes that while this was welcomed, the utility was on the lookout for any increase in demand on Thursday.

“We are seeing an upsurge of power demand and that is a risk. We will monitor the situation and inform South Africans. There are rounds of maintenance and trips and this was part of wear and tear of our units,” said Phasiwe.

Phasiwe said Eskom management would return to the board for a fresh mandate, but said the utility believed that the offer of 4.7% was made with ever increasing expenses of workers and other financial pressures in mind.

“According to the stats introduced yesterday, CPI is 4.2% (sic) and we are slightly higher than the inflation yet. But talks have not broken down, the unions are merely saying we can do better. Eskom management and negotiators are back speaking to unions. All of us want to resolve this as soon as possible and we are hopeful,” said Phasiwe.

Stats SA on Wednesday reported that CPI eased to 4.4% for May, from 4.5% in April despite the increase in VAT to 15%.

In a statement also released on Thursday morning, Eskom said there was a low probability of rotational load shedding during the day as a result of power station units being returned to the power system.

However, the statement said, the probability of rotational load shedding increases for the  evening peak period from 17:00 to 21:00 due to the expected increase in electricity demand.

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