Pravin Gordhan gives an update on Eskom, loadshedding

Public Enterprises media statement

The Minister of Public Enterprises, Mr Pravin Gordhan, and officials from the Ministry of Public Enterprises yesterday met the Eskom board and management about the financial and restructuring issues confronting the utility.

Board members and Minister Gordhan were briefed over several hours about power supply shortages caused by problems with coal supply and the quality of coal provided to Eskom, low dam storage levels at hydro-plants, diesel supply shortages both to the country and to Eskom, the collapse of power supply imported from Cahora Bassa due to the natural disaster in Mozambique, and a large number of tube failures and breakdowns at local coal-fired power stations.

During this time, the effects of the cyclone in Mozambique and Zimbabwe that caused havoc in both countries, also resulted in the collapse of transmissions from Cahora Bassa and level four load shedding.

“It is clear that greater urgency needs to be applied to acquire equipment necessary for urgent maintenance. We agree with South Africans that the continuation of frequent load shedding, and in particular stage four load shedding, is unacceptable and disruptive to our economy,” Minister Gordhan said after yesterday’s meeting.

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The National Treasury and the Department of Public Enterprises have committed to assist Eskom to fast-track, with the appropriate oversight, the procurement of essential goods and services that is required to urgently rehabilitate and repair generating units at local power stations.

Closer examination is also required of the quality of coal delivered to and accepted at Eskom power stations and the further delegation of powers from Eskom’s head office to power station managers, Minister Gordhan said.

In addition, the Technical Review Team began its work last week and will intensify its review of operations at power plants this week. The Team will provide important information about plant unit failures and what urgent measures can be implemented to ensure power stations operate at optimal levels.

The South African public is requested to understand that many power stations are between 37 and 50 years old and many operate at sub-optimal levels due to their age.

“We have asked Eskom to work with municipalities that supply power to large industrial users and businesses to minimise the disruptive effects of load shedding for our economy,” Minister Gordhan said.

Everything possible is being done to normalise electricity supply and Minister Gordhan will brief the media and the public in the coming days on further interventions.