South Africa’s Eskom mulls near-permanent blackouts for 24 months
By Kailene Pillay | IOL News |
SOUTH AFRICA – Eskom is chewing over the idea of implementing stage 2 or 3 load shedding on a near-permanent basis for the next two to three years, the cash-strapped parastatal announced on Sunday.
This is in an attempt to give more predictability to the public.
Eskom’s chairperson of the board, Mpho Makwana said the board has met about 50 times in the last 112 days discussing and contributing to the newly-developed power recovery plan.
The power utility also confirmed that chances of Stage 8 load shedding has been reduced even though the country has already experienced high stages of load shedding.
Eskom called a media briefing on Sunday morning to provide an update on the current system challenges.
Makwana said that the current estimated time for the first phase of return of service is in 2024. This is dependant on the whether the permanent state of Stage 2 and 3 load shedding while the power recovery plan goes smoothly over the next two years.
He said that Eskom was once named the ‘Global Energy Utility Company of the Year in 2001’ and they aimed to return to its glory days.
However, Makwana warned that the execution of the power recovery plan will not happen over a short space of time.
He said that Eskom, which is fast approaching its centenary in March this year, does have the ability to fix its challenges.
“The challenges at Eskom are not insurmountable,” Makwana said.
While the country has been experiencing high stages of load shedding, the current recovery plan aims to reduce those stages. Eskom has been at pains to explain that increasing load shedding stages were an act of last resort.
The power utility has, however, said that chances of Stage 8 load shedding were receding.
In the same breath, however, the power utility stated that there was always a chance that things could change.
“But I can assure you that we are working with world class teams who know exactly what to do. So that chance of a total blackout is reducing however the system still remains unpredictable and volatile,” said CEO Andre de Ruyter.
He also warned that municipal debt is approaching R57 billion.
“If we don’t receive payment for electricity we provide, it places us in a compromised situation,” he warned.
South Africa is currently on Stage 2 load shedding until 5am on Monday.
The country will then be moved to a Stage 3 from 5am to 4pm and Stage 4 from 4pm to 5am rotation through the week.
There is no risk of any higher stages of load shedding at this time, he said.
In addition to placing the country on a permanent state of load shedding, the power utility was also working on bringing back six power stations as part of its recovery plan.
De Ruyter said that Kusile 1, 2, 3 will take at least eight months to return, while Medupi is expected to return in September next year.
De Ruyter announced his resignation from his leadership position at the power utility last year after a reported attempted murder attack. According to reports, De Ruyter had to hospitalized after his coffee was laced with cyanide.
Board chairperson Makwana said the journey to acquire new leadership has commenced as they search for a new Chief Generations Officer and new group CEO.