Eskom: No reason to panic over load shedding

Leaked minutes of an Eskom meeting on Friday revealed that managers were warned that the Hendrina Power Station could be forced to shut down, alternatively use expensive open cycle gas turbines or make peace with load shedding.

FILE: Eskom's Hendrina power station in Mpumalanga. Picture: eskom.co.za

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom says load shedding is not a risk at this stage but it’s still trying to verify the amount of coal available at its Hendrina Power Station.

In an amAbhungane exclusive, it's been revealed that Gupta-owned Tegeta threatened to cut supply because it wants Eskom to increase the amount it pays for coal.

Leaked minutes of an Eskom meeting on Friday revealed that managers were warned that the Hendrina Power Station could be forced to shut down, alternatively use expensive open cycle gas turbines or make peace with load shedding.

Eskom needs to have at least a 20-day coal stockpile at its coal power stations.

The utility’s Khulu Phasiwe says that currently they are receiving less than normal supply from Tegeta but they are still uncertain of the stockpile supply.

“If all of them are within 20 days and clearly we don’t have problems. But if we have Hendrina and other power stations that are below 20 days of coal supply, then clearly we’ll have a situation in our hands but so far we have no reason to panic.”

Tegeta and Trillian founder Salim Essa and the president's son Duduzane Zuma wanted Eskom to increase the amount it pays for coal.

Leaked documents have revealed that Tegeta’s threat to cut coal supply came just as Eskom discovered a massive miscalculation that over-estimated the size of Hendrina's strategic coal stockpile.

It’s also alleged that the Gupta-owned company hasn’t been meeting its contractual obligation and has been exporting coal while starving Eskom of the supply it is legally entitled to.

Eskom says that the situation is under control with another unit at Medupi connected to the grid this week.

The power utility has repeatedly told the public that the days of load shedding are over but these leaked documents show that blackouts were a real risk.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)