SAnews.gov.za (Tshwane)

South Africa: Unplanned Outages to Reduce Going Into Winter

Eskom CEO Brian Dames says the country's power system remains "vulnerable" but unplanned outages will reduce going into winter.

He also said that while the system had stabilised by late Thursday afternoon, a possibility of another power emergency being declared remains.

Briefing the media on Friday, a day after Eskom declared an emergency on the power system, CEO Dames said the state-owned utility has, following the 2008 load shedding, put several systems in place to respond to unforeseen events, including the introduction of a national emergency centre.

He called on residents to use electricity sparingly and to avoid wastages - especially industrial customers.

"The risk of emergency conditions developing remains with us for the rest of March and into April.

"From a planning perspective, the unplanned outages are expected to reduce as we go into winter.

"Planning is consistently in the 'red' which makes us extremely vulnerable to any unforeseen events," he said. Dames also said this week's load shedding was rolled-out due to poor coal quality following heavy rainfall around various parts of the country.

He said wet coal led caused lower power generation at various plants, and this resulted in a few plants being forcibly shut down.

As a result, the Grootvlei and the Majuba power plants lost one power generating unit each, while the Kendal plant lost four units.

By 9pm on Wednesday, the Kendal plant had lost 400 Mega Watts - putting the system under extreme pressure and forcing Eskom's hand on the early hours of Thursday morning to declare an emergency and implement load shedding.

On Thursday, Dames called on the industrial customers to reduce their consumption by 10% for load shedding to be avoided in the coming days.

He reiterated this call, and also made a plea to residential customers to also use energy responsibly during both off-peak and peak hours, saying Eskom cannot do it alone.

"We can point fingers at everybody, but it is crucially important that all South Africans do save electricity and (saving) 10% across the entire customer base would certainly make a substantial difference in making sure that the power system is stable."

CEO Dames said after the 2008 power outages, Eskom put in place adequate protocols to respond to a power system emergency should it be under pressure.

This included improving communications to customers, quarterly media briefings, the introduction of a national emergency command centre and at an executive level, weekly reviews and system analysis. - SAnews.gov.za

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