Heavy rain may heighten outage risk, Eskom warns

The biggest risk to Eskom being able to avoid load shedding during this weekend is the weather, according to the power utility’s spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe.

Phasiwe told Fin24 that heavy rains expected across large parts of the country this weekend may affect the quality of coal stored with some of its suppliers.

This past week Eskom had to implement load shedding because of technical issues on at a station level. As a result, 16 000MW became unavailable due to unplanned outages.

Phasiwe said that the most optimistic outcome of the coming weekend for Eskom was that they catch up with demand and mitigating the impact of any outages that may occur.

"Because we are starting from a low base, we have a lot of unplanned outages on the cards and the risk of load shedding still persists through the weekend. The projection of the water bureau says there will be heavy rain in Mpumalanga and that may lead to wet coal," said Phasiwe.

Phasiwe said Eskom had an emergency stockpile in case of heavy rainfall if the coal it intended to use this weekend became unusable. However, he said, resorting to that would put added pressure on Eskom later.

"If the heavy rainfall continues for longer then we will try the reserve coal we have and that might sort things out but may drive us into deeper problems," Phasiwe said.

Phasiwe said the December holidays would see businesses put less pressure on the power grid and Eskom intends to focus on using that time to build enough capacity to avoid outages wherever possible in 2019.

"From December 16 we see companies close down and we are seeing that relieving some pressure. We will use that time to conduct maintenance on our systems so that when the country gets back to work at the beginning of next year they will find us ready," he said.

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