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By Paul Burkhardt
(Bloomberg) – Eskom Holdings, which supplies almost all of South Africa’s power, said it’s undertaking long-overdue repairs at its facilities amid a high risk of nationwide outages, and it expects supply to improve later this year.
The debt-stricken state utility has implemented electricity rationing – known locally as load-shedding – on 19 days so far this year after record blackouts in 2020. That followed years of underinvestment in new capacity and a failure to maintain its plants, a number of which are past or approaching their retirement date – problems Chief Executive Officer Andre de Ruyter has been trying to rectify.
“We will continue to take units off and maintain them properly,” Chief Operating Officer Jan Oberholzer said in a presentation on Monday. “The power system remains vulnerable and volatile, with the risk of load-shedding significantly reduced after the completion of the reliability maintenance by September 2021.”
There were 1,798 gigawatt hours of power cuts last year, even as new capacity became operational from coal, wind and solar sources, according to a report by the Council for Scientific & Industrial Research.
Eskom reported some improvement as it fixed defects in its newest units at Medupi and Kusile. It’s also had 4,190 employees and contractors test positive for the coronavirus, with 104 fatal cases.
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