After three consecutive days of no power cuts, Eskom yesterday resumed its rotational load shedding as the resumption of economic activity after the National Shutdown and the public holiday put a strain on the grid.
The struggling power utility had given South Africa a reprieve from intensified power cuts for the first time this year on Sunday, suspending load shedding for 3 days in a row.
This coincided with the EFF’s planned national shutdown to protest against load shedding on Monday, which saw a majority of businesses closing for trade and reducing demand for electricity.
However, Investec chief economist Annabel Bishop yesterday said that protesting against load shedding by seeking to drive a national shutdown, made the situation worse not better as the electricity supply constraints could not be quickly or easily fixed, despite demands to do so.
Bishop said demands to shut businesses – sometimes met via fear of damage to infrastructure, staff or owners, reduced demand for electricity, and so revenue for Eskom.
“Monday’s protest is expected to have little direct effect on the economy, given that it fell on essentially a long weekend, while a number of businesses remained open and some small businesses typically shut on Mondays having worked over the weekend,” Bishop said.
Meanwhile, Eskom yesterday confirmed that Unit 1 of Koeberg Nuclear Power Station would be offline for longer than the expected June deadline.
This means that at least one stage of load shedding will remain while Koeberg’s Unit 2 will also undergo a similar long outage to replace its three steam generators starting in the later part of this year.
The unit – which holds a capacity of some 920MW – is on a planned maintenance outage in order to allow for the replacement of its steam generators as part of extending the power station’s life by a further 20 years.
Eskom said due to a number of steps having to be taken carefully, the return to service of the unit had been delayed.
“After (these steps), we still need to complete the maintenance activities scheduled for the outage, commission all the systems, refuel the reactor, and return the unit to service. Due to the delays that have already been experienced, the original return to service date for the unit is no longer achievable,” Eskom said.
“Although every effort is being made to reduce the impact, we are currently running a few weeks late. The Generation production plan is being optimised to minimise as far as possible the impact of the projected delay on the system.”
Minister in the Presidency responsible for Electricity Kgosientso Ramokgopa yesterday continued with his tour with a visit to Tutuka Power Station in Mpumalanga, one of the two worst-performing power stations.
Ramokgopa’s Tutuka Power Station visit is the third day of a two-week programme of planned visits to 14 Eskom power stations around the country.
The minister said workers at Eskom were the ones who would resolve load shedding.
He assured Eskom employees that he would help to create a conducive and supportive environment for workers.
“As long as the workers are happy… and have the necessary tools of trade… and are given the opportunity, and for as long as we are able to address the workers’ grievances, we have no doubt the workers will help us to resolve this problem,” he said.
“I am with you. I am on your side. We have agreed with management and organised labour that I am coming back. There is a lot that organised labour wants to discuss with me. There is a lot that still needs to be done.”