Cape Town - The no-show by Electricity Minister Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa at the Western Cape’s ad-hoc committee on the energy crisis on Wednesday has raised questions over his intention to “dodge” accountability.
More than an hour into the meeting, EFF MPL Aishah Cassiem asked: “Can we get an indication if the minister of electricity is still joining us because we have questions directed to him, or is he dodging this one?"
After several excuses, Ramokgopa turned into a no-show.
Ramokgopa and the acting chief executive of Eskom, Calib Cassim, were meant to brief the committee on Wednesday on the current status of the energy crisis and its effect on the Western Cape.
While Cassim and his team provided a general overview, Ramokgopa said he would be late as he had a Cabinet meeting to attend.
However, the committee was later informed that the minister had another meeting and would have to reschedule his appearance.
Ramokgopa has been conducting site visits to various power stations, with the most recent one being the Kusile power station in Mpumalanga, where three units are out of commission.
He is expected to be invited back to appear before the committee.
Cassim said while he was not losing sleep over the possibility of a blackout, load shedding would likely hit the nation every single day this winter.
DA MPL Deidré Baartman wanted to know how load shedding would impact the tourism season, if maintenance was limited in winter.
The group executive for generation, Bheki Nxumalo, said: “In terms of maintenance, that is the normal profile in winter. We go on lower maintenance.”
He noted that summer would see the return of Koeberg unit 1, which would make a difference.
“In summer, from November, December, we get big units from Kusile back onto the system. Things should start looking better,” he said.
While Eskom would like to participate in the renewable energy space, Cassim said they were looking in the foreseeable future at a minimal investment approach, so they would continue operating the plants available by improving the stations that were not performing optimally.
ACDP MPL Ferlon Christians wanted to know about the extent of sabotage and how it was being dealt with.
“As of this year, we have not seen any incidents at our power stations,” said Nxumalo.
He confirmed that Denel would be coming on board to assist with technology on the security side of things, while law enforcement agencies continued their investigations.
In terms of exempting hospitals, Cassim said separating the supply was the challenge for striking a balance and protecting the grid.
Eskom also denied ever implementing Stage 8, which is 16 hours of load shedding in a 32-hour period.
Energy expert Lungile Mashele maintained that while Stage 8 was never announced, it was implemented.
She explained that the reason for maintenance in winter had to do with demand and supply.
“Because of the increased demand in winter, they rather have their maintenance in summer. So it won’t look better coming out of winter, there will still be load shedding.
“However in winter we might have days with higher stages, up to Stage 8, while in summer, with units coming back online, we might hover around Stage 4 to Stage 6.
“If you look at their summer programme, it runs from August until March, but in December demand comes down, companies shut down, people go on holiday, demand is generally low.
Hence around the holiday period the situation could improve,” she said. However, last year and the year before, we had to load shed on New Year’s. It’s important to note, the unplanned outages can move 4000MW either way on any given day, so the situation can change at any time,“ she said.