Senior Eskom officials were at pains to emphasise the power utility will not be sacrificing maintenance under any circumstances.
Planned and unplanned outages are expected to impact generation capacity in the future, but Eskom says maintenance has been sacrificed for too long, which has led to the power crisis.
One of the biggest offenders for Unplanned Capability Loss Factors (UCLF) is the Tutuka power station.
Eskom Group Executive Generation Philip Dukashe said the station had to be shut down in December. He said maintenance was supposed to have happened in 2014, but that never happened.
He said officials have been arrested and suspended because of this.
The other two major offenders are Kendall and Duvha stations.
Eskom’s maintenance plan a costly affair
Financing repairs and planned maintenance is problematic, but the parastatal said it was working hard to source funds to repair ageing infrastructure.
Eskom Group Executive for Transmission Segomoco Scheppers said the majority of the coal power stations are operating past the midway of their operational life, at an average of 42 years, resulting in high levels of breakdowns.
“As we continue to perform reliability maintenance and refurbishment projects to address lack of power station reliability, an elevated risk of load shedding remains,” said Scheppers.
But the power giant said it is making “major positive strides and delivering key milestones in its plan to operational recovery.”
However, the road to sustainability will be long and hard, and load shedding will continue to be a factor.
“Major projects and outages undertaken this year will continue to exert pressure on the supply side, raising the risk of load shedding in the short term,” said Scheepers.
“These outages, however, are necessary interventions that will deliver long term benefits and the security of energy supply.”
Eskom’s Group Chief Executive André de Ruyter said extending the operating life of the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station is key among these interventions.
The facility will be operating at half its generating capacity for most of the year.
Vandalism and theft of infrastructureVandalism and theft of Eskom infrastructure. COO Jan Oberholzer.
There have been 2 752 incidents of vandalism and theft at an estimated cost of R200 million since the end of December.
Eskom has deployed an additional 450 security guards to its key sites, and is using advanced surveillance technologies such as intelligent cameras and drones equipped with infrared cameras, to protect its assets.
Further overt and covert surveillance and intelligence gathering are being put in place to prevent criminals from causing damage to the Eskom system.
“As we continue to turn around the situation in less than ideal circumstances, we would like to caution against increasing criminal activities on our networks and our assets, which result in increased risks of customer interruptions, public safety concerns and financial losses,” said de Ruyter.
The power utility has forked out an additional R48 million on the new security enhancements, and this cost is expected to rise.
“We urge security and law enforcement agencies to deal decisively with these criminal elements as their activities could have a very negative impact on our economy if not addressed decisively,” added de Ruyter.
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