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    ‘This is totally unacceptable’ – Pravin Gordhan responds to Stage 6 load shedding


    December 8, 2022 - Siphelele Dludla

     

      Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has directed Eskom’s management and board to work hard to get the country out of Stage 6 load shedding with immediate effect.

      This comes as the struggling power utility plunged the country into darkness on Wednesday by implementing Stage 6 load shedding for the fourth time this year following a number of breakdowns at its ageing coal-fired power stations.

      Gordhan today said he met the board of Eskom yesterday and directed them to act urgently to ensure that the utility’s management gets the country out of the present bout of load shedding.

      “Power cuts are having a devastating effect on households and livelihoods, investment and the economic climate. This is totally unacceptable,” Gordhan said.

      “The frequency of breakdowns is certainly attributable to some element of malfunctioning within the Eskom systems and possibly sabotage as well.

      “We have had to call on law enforcement agencies to show a stronger presence at all Eskom power stations. Those who are involved in nefarious activities, beware. We will not tolerate any activities whose purpose is not in the national interest.”

      Gordhan also apologised to the country about the impact and disruptions caused by load shedding, saying the government would keep the nation informed about the status of the electricity supply.

      Eskom has said Stage 6 load shedding will continue until 5am on Friday, after which Stage 5 will be implemented until 5am on Saturday.

      On Thursday, Eskom did not rule out higher stages of power cuts as the depletion of the budget to acquire diesel for the open cycle gas turbines had forced it to strictly preserve the remaining diesel for emergency situations such as multiple, simultaneous tripping of generators.

      Meanwhile, Eskom and Hyosung Heavy Industries, one of the appointed service providers for the Eskom Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) project, have marked the beginning of construction of the first energy storage facility.

      The sod-turning ceremony was held yesterday at the Elandskop BESS site in Msunduzi and Impendle local municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal.

      Construction will take between 7–12 months and the batteries on the site will be charged from the main grid via Eskom’s Elandskop substation.

      The facility will have a capacity of 8MW, equivalent to 32MWh of distributed electricity, enough to power a town such as Howick for four hours.

      Among the notable benefits of the BESS is that it will boost the network during peak hours, thereby reducing the strain on the network during peak hours.

      Eskom CEO André de Ruyter said the beginning of the construction of the Elandskop BESS was a positive development in the utility’s efforts to alleviate the pressure on the national electricity grid.

      “This is a direct response to the urgent need to address South Africa’s long-running electricity crisis by adding more generation capacity to the grid, and also to strengthen the grid by adding more storage and transforming capacity,” De Ruyter said.

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