Power grid under more strain due to technical fault

Eskom’s Khulu Phasiwe says technicians are busy with repair work.

FILE: The utility says it appears the valve reactor overheated. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom has lost 220 megawatts of power imports from Mozambique, meaning the grid is more strained than usual.

The loss is the result of a technical fault affecting one of the eight converters at the Apollo substation in Midrand.

The utility says it appears the valve reactor overheated.

Eskom's Khulu Phasiwe says technicians are busy with repair work.

"Our engineers are telling us that it will take about five days to repair. Unit Two of Koeberg [Power Station] is coming online but it will take a bit of time before it can give us a total output of 930 megawatts."

Eskom says despite losing the 220 megawatts of power imports, if everything goes according to plan, there will be no loadshedding this week.

Phasiwe said, "We are doing everything possible to repair it and also to bring other units online so that we can mitigate against this risk."

Meanwhile, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has called on Eskom to renew its contracts with coal suppliers or face a possible strike.

The union says nearly 1,700 of its members at Exxaro's Arnot coal mine stand to lose their jobs because the parastatal doesn't plan to renew its contract with the coal supplier.

NUM's deputy general secretary William Mabapa says they want Eskom to renew its contract with Exxaro because the mine is based close to their power stations.

"When we say Exxaro Arnot mine, we've got Eskom Arnot Power Station and that clearly shows that this mine was developed to supply coal to this power station."

But Phasiwe says their contract with Exxaro has come to a natural end.

"This 40-year contract is coming to an end on 31 December. So we are not cancelling this contract; it's just coming to a natural end."

The union has blamed Eskom for the looming retrenchments at Exxaro and says CEO Brian Molefe is to blame for the jobs that will be lost.