WRAP | State capture had 'massive implications' for Eskom repair work - Gordhan

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27 October 21:05

While South Africans had to deal with stage 4 load shedding on Wednesday, Eskom hopes to return about 2 000 MW of power to the grid overnight, allowing the load shedding system likely to be downgraded from level 4 to level 3.

On Friday, a few more thousand MW are expected to come back on to the system, resulting in a likely downgrade to stage 2. The aim is to reach a stage where no load shedding is needed sometime over the weekend. 

This was the scenario painted by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and Eskom CEO André de Ruyter during a media briefing on Wednesday evening on the state of the grid. 

Read the full story here.

27 October 19:37

What's even worse, Kyle, is the deep sense of irony, at least for me right now, that I have had to McGyver my way into helping to report because I am sitting in darkness - Ahmed Areff

27 October 19:36

I am not walking away from this briefing feeling like I have heard anything new, or surprising. - Kyle Cowan 

27 October 19:32

Eskom needs to move away from the Energy Availability Factor. Higher planned maintenance causes this number to drop, and its a Catch-22 performance metric. Between September 2020 and September 2021, a quarter of Eskom's generation capacity was lost to unplanned breakdowns. Eskom chief operations officer Jan Oberholzer called the levels of unplanned losses "unsustainable" on Monday. - Kyle Cowan

27 October 19:32

Nuclear is part of the framework for SA, says Gordhan.

27 October 19:29

Energy Availability Factor is "disappointingly low" says De Ruyter. Energy intensive users are from time to time asked to curtail usage during peak hours. 

27 October 19:25

State capture had "massive implications" for Eskom repair work but "150%" being given to rectify this, says Gordhan.

27 October 19:23

It is of course thanks to the ANC's investment arm, Chancellor House, that Hitachi was awarded the boiler contracts for Medupi and Kusile.  - Kyle Cowan

27 October 19:23

Gordhan: ANC governments over the years have been aware there will be electricity challenges.

The hope was that the private sector would invest in electricity generation, but that did not happen, so government pinned its hopes on Medupi and Kusile - but now we know that due to lack of skills at Eskom and corruption, both these power stations have design faults and overruns in terms of time and cost.

That is now the subject of a rectification process, he says.

27 October 19:22

Gordhan admits the hopes for Medupi and Kusile to stabilise the grid did not materialise. 

27 October 19:21

De Ruyter: Leading up to elections we will be cutting down on some short term maintenance to add some resilience to the system but we will not bring back units on long-term maintenance earlier than planned.

27 October 19:21

De Ruyter is asked if unions were asked about the idea of Eskom introducing variable pay.

27 October 19:12

De Ruyter now directly referring to News24’s reporting about Matshela Koko’s card system which led to the manipulation of data and statistics related to breakdowns. — Pieter du Toit

27 October 19:11

Executives' pay will be linked to performance. Pay will be at risk if certain performance targets aren't met, says De Ruyter. 

27 October 19:10

Gordhan is talking about Matshela Koko, without naming him. News24 recently reported about Koko's continued influence at Eskom. - Kyle Cowan

27 October 19:06

Like I said, Pieter. It's time for government to realise that Eskom can't cope anymore, they have failed. There are some power stations that are costing us more to keep running than what they are producing. - Kyle Cowan

27 October 19:05

Gordhan: Far more needs to be done in terms of the energy system in SA to reach a point of energy security for economic growth.

27 October 19:05

Eskom is a mortally wounded institution. Riven by corruption, literally, from top to bottom, afflicted by serial and endemic mismanagement and operating decrepit and old power stations, what else can we expect? — Pieter du Toit

27 October 19:05

Definitely, Ahmed. - Kyle Cowan

27 October 19:04

Gordhan passing the buck on adding more power - says its not up to him or Eskom. A dig at Gwede? - Ahmed Areff

27 October 19:04

Do we accept responsibility for the state of the plant? I don't operate the plant, I communicate to you what is said to me by Eskom management and board, says Gordhan.

He doesn't accept this on an "uncritical basis", he adds, saying that the utility's management are asked "tough questions". 

27 October 19:03

Gordhan: In a period like this you have to manage both planned and unplanned management to ensure enough MW available to keep the country going.

27 October 19:02

De Ruyter has been imploring that Eskom should be allowed to add between 5GW and 6GW since he became CEO. He’s been blocked politically at every turn. — Pieter du Toit

It's a comedy of errors, Pieter. Instead of the desperately needed 5 000 MW of new capacity, our department of energy has decided to sign ridiculous deals with Karpowership. - Kyle Cowan

27 October 19:02

The question is a good one. We have been trying to secure "emergency" power for a long time now. But it's been snarled up in so much other stuff - Ahmed Areff

27 October 19:01

Gordhan is asked whether he accepts responsibility for not one MW being added to the grid since December 2019. 

Minister responds that the public is "very aware" that Eskom was a key target during the state capture era. Those who think a great job was done during the earlier years when both fear and perks were used to drive a plant to a point where we must now spend lots of time, money and effort on recovery, "have got something to think about". 

27 October 18:59

Precisely, Ahmed. It's time for the ANC to relinquish its strangle-hold on electricity generation. It's increasingly obvious that they can't turn it around. That counts for the past 15 years. - Kyle Cowan

27 October 18:57

I am sorry, but in light of recent reporting by News24's investigations team, I am deeply concerned by Mr Maseko's mention of Matshela Koko in the context of the current crisis. - Kyle Cowan

27 October 18:56

Yep, Kyle. This all feels like that guy putting his fingers and toes in the holes in the dam wall. We need to fix the dam[n] wall. - Ahmed Areff

27 October 18:55

I get that feeling too, Ahmed. It's the week leading up to elections. So now its important to talk about challenges, when we should be talking about this every day. Eskom is an a crisis. We need to start treating it like one. - Kyle Cowan

27 October 18:53

Is this whole briefing not... Eskom being used a political football? Or is that being too cynical? - Ahmed Areff

27 October 18:53

Gordhan is making an important point about power station managers' pay being linked to performance. This is crucial, but it cannot incentivise managers to undertake practices that are damaging to the units in the long run, as we have seen in the past. Eskom has in the past five years lost significant institutional knowledge as experienced managers have left. Last week, Avin Maharaj left Kusile Power Station. He was brought in to help Eskom get Kusile on track, as it is years late already. - Kyle Cowan

27 October 18:52

Extraordinary measures will need to be taken to get the support Eskom requires to fulfil its function, says Gordhan. 

27 October 18:51

CEO and senior managers at Eskom will ensure there are people on the ground to instil "the right kind of urgency and vigilance" at all levels of Eskom, particularly power stations, says Gordhan. The minister also warns against "external interference".

Don't treat the power utility like a "political football", he urges political parties. 

27 October 18:50

Gordhan: Procurement process - possible to have checks and balances while ensuring the parts and expertise can be obtained more speedily than currently. Will apply to Treasury to adjust process so Eskom can get what is needed.

27 October 18:49

Electricity system in SA urgently requires more MW, says Gordhan. It is now urgent. 

Securing "right amount" of private investment must be sped up.

27 October 18:47

Not only are faults sometimes outside of Eskom's control - sometimes it is also human error, says Gordhan.

At one power station a light was flashing to indicate a fault at a particular pipe, which was ignored by the operator. As a result, a whole unit was lost - some 600 - 700 MW. 

The individual was fired.

27 October 18:46

It's important that we get an update about potential for disruption that load shedding might have on the election. But its telling that we don't see this alacrity during 'normal' weeks from the ANC. Frankly, South Africans want electricity, not apologies. - Kyle Cowan

27 October 18:46

It's not a politically convenient time for the ANC to have load shedding this week, is it, Pieter? - Kyle Cowan

27 October 18:45

This seems to largely be about ensuring that the lights stay on for elections, and that the logistics all run smoothly. However, this past week has proved that as much as Eskom can plan for things, the poor state of our power stations always likes throwing out surprises - Ahmed Areff

27 October 18:45

Gordhan apologises to political parties for anxiety that was caused due to load shedding ahead of elections. 

27 October 18:44

Over 100 mobile generators have been made available that can be deployed at any of the voting stations, says Gordhan. 

It is clear that lack of electricity supply will not disrupt elections, he says. 

27 October 18:43

Gordhan: Scanners at voting stations are pre-charged and have a 12-hour battery life. 

There is also a liaison mechanism between Eskom and the IEC. 

27 October 18:42

Gordhan: IEC has procured lighting equipment for voting stations outside Eskom supply areas. Generators and technicians will also be on stand by to assist at any voting stations if need be.

Results centres will also have generators / generator capacity. 

27 October 18:40

Gordhan: Unless there is an unexpected event there will not be load shedding going into the elections  - this to ensure the elections are not disrupted. Eskom and government doing 'everything possible' to ensure elections can go ahead without disruption. 

27 October 18:38

As it gets underway, its not a politically convenient time for the ANC to have load shedding this week, is it, Pieter? - Kyle Cowan

27 October 18:38

Overnight some 2 000 MW of power will be returned to operations. The system will likely be downgraded from level 4 to level 3.

On Friday a few more thousand MW are expected to come back onto the system, resulting in a likely downgrade to Stage 2. 

27 October 18:37

As we stand we are at level 4 due to the breakdown in several units at the generation plants but also because of delays in the return of units that were out for maintenance and have not come back successfully, says Gordhan.

27 October 18:34

Briefing about to start. Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter is connected. The team is waiting for Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan

- Ahmed Areff

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