De Ruyter – promises, promises – power cuts to ease in fortnight

By Loni Prinsloo

(Bloomberg) — South Africa’s Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Andre de Ruyter said power cuts should start easing within the next 10 days when big generation units are expected to come back online.

The state utility ramped up power rationing to 4,000 megawatts from 6 p.m. Tuesday until further notice due to generation trips at its Kendal and Lethabo plants and has imposed a record 120 days of blackouts so far in 2022.

“We are doing everything possible to add megawatts to the grid,” De Ruyter told Johannesburg-based Radio Sonder Grense. “We have started buying power from Zambia, and we are looking at Mozambique and the private sector to add megawatts.”

The private sector has a total of 6,000 megawatts of new renewable projects in the pipeline, he said. Those projects were targeted after President Cyril Ramaphosa in July said companies will be allowed to build power plants of any size without a license to meet their own needs and to sell it to the grid.

De Ruyter said it will probably take another 18 to 24 months for that capacity to come onto the network.

Board to retain management

Chairman Mpho Makwana said the company’s newly appointed board will retain the power utility’s management for the time being, as the South African company conducts an assessment of its power plants.

Makwana, who was named along with most of the new board last week, said the plants’ performance will be reviewed over the next 30 to 60 days to ascertain how to make them operational at an average of 75% of the time — a target set by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. Their so-called electricity availability factor, a measure of when they can produce electricity, is currently less than 60%.

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