Earlier this week, the Sunday Times reported that electricity provider, Eskom, is facing a coal supply crisis that could possibly lead to the dreaded return of load shedding over the Christmas period. Eskom supplies around 90% of South Africa’s power, and has been battling insufficient stockpiles of fuel for the better part of the year.
Eskom CEO and man-with-a-standing-prozac-prescription, Phakamani Hadebe, has said that ten of Eskom’s plants have less than twenty days of coal stock on hand.
Piling onto the company’s endless list of woes, there’s also the high levels of debt to worry about – and it’s reported that Eskom will need to fork out another R1.5 billion to complete the two already over-budget and behind-schedule coal-fired mega plants in the works.
Then, Hadebe lamented the fact that high levels of unplanned maintenance have also become a problem, largely due to deteriorating levels of power generation thanks to shoddy coal quality and the financial restrictions that wouldn’t allow for any real maintenance work to be completed throughout the year.
Ah, and it wouldn’t be right to leave out the labour action / sabotage we saw playing out just a few months ago. You may remember this as the cause behind the brief bit of load shedding we had in June, after protesters blockaded the roads and attacked Eskom staff due to unsatisfactory wage negotiations.
With the country still reeling from the impact of the technical recession announced earlier this year, load shedding is the very last thing our economy needs come festive season.
Alas, Hadebe said that, due to the current system sitting at a pessimal status – controlled blackouts simply can’t be ruled out for the remainder of the year.
Ted Blom, energy analyst, has cautioned that the ‘scale of Eskom’s supply, financial and equipment problems’ may just result in the power utility shutting down before the end of 2018.
On Monday, 19 November, the company announced the following:
So, what Eskom is trying to say, essentially, is that the company is in crisis management mode, up the creek without a paddle, and it’s currently relying on costly resources, such as diesel generators, to get the job done. Which, naturally, it will not.
Hadebe says that Eskom has implemented a ‘Nine Point Recovery Plan’ to address the utility’s key operational challenges – because parastatals love giving important-sounding names to the most mundane of tasks.
The ‘Plan’ involves fixing all the broken things like power plants, partial losses, full load losses and trips, units on long-termed forced outages, boiler tube leaks, power lines and so on and so forth.
In a media briefing last week, the company stated that the company has undergone ‘trying times’ over the past couple of years – what with rolling out the red carpet for the Gupta family and all – and said that it is now up to those lucky few who still work at Eskom to do their very best in rejuvenating the institution.
Haven’t prepped your home for a blackout yet? Black Friday is the perfect time to stock up on everything you could possibly need for surviving these dark and troubling times. We’ve put together a handy guide HERE.