Eskom’s ‘maintenance festival’ proving to be a success

Overall the utility has been able to avoid bulk power cuts as maintenance continues on its generators.

FILE: Eskom says power outages must be ‘endured’ so that long stalled maintenance of generating plants can be carried out. Picture: Suplied.

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom says its 'maintenance festival' over the recent long weekends has been successful in terms of improving the performance of its generators.

Stage one load shedding was implemented for a short period last night, but overall the utility has been able to avoid bulk power cuts.

The utility's Khulu Phasiwe says the system is only expected to become vulnerable later today.

"The challenge though would be from 5pm in the afternoon until 9pm in the evening. Generally during that time, that's when you see a lot of demand on the power system because of people preparing meals late in the evening."

Late last month, Eskom's new acting CEO Brian Molefe said South Africans were justified in feeling irritated by load shedding and acknowledged the cost to the economy.

But Molefe said power outages must be 'endured' so that long stalled maintenance of generating plants can be carried out.

Molefe insisted the power utility was not on the verge of insolvency and said that if 3,000 extra megawatts could be fed into the national grid; load shedding might be a thing of the past by the end of the year.

He said finding 3,000 extra megawatts of power will close the gap between peak demand and what's available when plants are shut down for maintenance and others break down unexpectedly.

That would mean an end to load shedding, perhaps as soon as the end of 2015.

Meanwhile, Eskom says South Africa's two new giant coal-fired stations, Medupi and Kusile, are expected to be completed by 2021.