Who remembers this? Just over a month ago, when questioned about the prospects of load-shedding making its inevitable return, power utility Eskom remained adamant that everything was running according to plan, that there was no reason whatsoever for concern, and that there were absolutely no plans for load-shedding to return any time soon.
Yes, this actually happened, and yet, here we are, basking once more in that familiar glow of Eskom’s complete ineptitude. With Stage 2 load-shedding being implemented across the country this week, we took a look at why this is happening again, and if we’re in it for the long haul.
In a recent statement on Twitter, the beleaguered SOE blamed the sudden shortage of capacity on high levels of unplanned breakdowns.
“The supply constraint is caused by, among others, five generating units that are unavailable due to boiler tube leaks,” the company said, completely failing to grasp the importance of keeping up maintenance, repairs or even inspections, and how in doing so, could probably have avoided many so-called ‘unplanned’ breakdowns.
Additionally, a conveyor belt used to supply the Medupi power station with coal failed toward the middle of October, resulting in lower-than-usual (which is already less-than-what-could-be-considered-even-marginally-sub-par) volumes of coal being supplied to the laughably graceless excuse for an overpriced power plant, and so limiting the power-generating capacity of the station to half of its usual output.
Due to the underperformance of these coal-fired plants, Eskom has been using its expensive Open Cycle Gas Turbine generators almost extensively, all week, draining both dam levels and diesel tank levels down to the dregs.
Eskom, which supplies almost 95% of South Africa’s power, and which has all but collapsed in on itself beneath the crushing weight of its own incompetence, and insurmountable debt, and which relies solely on a steady stream of tax-payer-funded Government bailouts for survival, had the following to say:
Well, don’t you feel better?
In an interview with Radio 702 this week, Eskom COO, Jan Oberholzer, stated that load-shedding could very well continue over the next week due to the aforementioned constraints.
You may remember that, back in April of this year, Minister of Public Enterprises and person-with-the-most-undesired-job-in-the-country, Pravin Gordhan, released a statement claiming that Eskom had a couple of ideas to fight load-shedding for good and get the company back on track.
Just four months later, it was widely reported that Eskom’s ‘fragile generation system’ would be unable to respond to any increased demand for electricity, and that acceleration in economic growth in South Africa would surely trigger a new string of power cuts.
The failure to account for this growth, and the return of rolling blackouts across the country, has led certain municipalities, such as Johannesburg and Cape Town, to search for new ways in mitigating the outages. One such idea includes seeking new agreements with local power stations – such as the independent Kelvin Power Station in Kempton Park – which could possibly see power sold to the City of Johannesburg at a cheaper rate than Eskom. The city’s mayor, Herman Mashaba, had the following to say:
The rand, of course, had only just begun to stabilize – promising a possible decrease in the fuel price come November – but with Eskom’s latest bout of idiocy, this is now unlikely. In fact, with the massive damage being done to South Africa’s economy by load-shedding – a predicted loss of up to R5 billion each and every day - economists believe that it could be the final push that sees the country downgraded to Junk status by circling credit agencies.
Eskom could not have chosen a worse time to drop the ball.
When will Eskom’s rampant incompetence affect you, your safety, your productivity and everything in your fridge? Here is where you can check:
For access to other load-shedding schedules, Eskom has made them available on their website HERE. The smartphone app, EskomSePush, can also be downloaded to receive notifications regarding scheduled and current load-shedding in and around your area.
Eskom will supposedly keep customers informed if there are any changes to the system.