Ramokgopa promises reduced load-shedding

South Africa’s electricity minister said there will likely be fewer blackouts this week after bad planning led to the worst power cuts in a month amid a cold snap.

More than 5,000 megawatts of generating capacity are expected to return to service from Tuesday, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa told reporters in the capital, Pretoria, on Monday.

State utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. last week removed 6,000 megawatts from the grid — a process known as Stage 6 load-shedding — as it replaced fuel for open-cycle gas turbines that are used to produce emergency power.

The increased outages were partly the result of “us dropping the ball from a planning point of view in relation to the replenishing of the open-cycle gas turbines,” Ramokgopa said.

“By the 18th of July, we expect to return over 5000 megawatts of generating capacity, and I am confident that the team will stick to that so that we do not go into outage slips and we are able to attend to the demand as expected.”

Eskom Electricity Shortfall

Africa’s most industrialized economy has been dogged by rotating blackouts since 2008 because Eskom has been unable to meet demand from its old and poorly maintained plants.

With elections looming next year and public outrage mounting about the energy deficit, President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed Ramokgopa to his post in March to oversee the government’s response to the crisis.

The minister expressed concern about delays in a maintenance project at the Koeberg nuclear power station, which could mean Eskom misses a September deadline to return one of its two 920 megawatt units to service — an eventuality he said needed to be averted at all costs.

“I had asked for a more detailed report,” said Ramokgopa, who plans to visit the plant this week. “The more we get an indication of what the issues are, the more we are getting very worried.”


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