Former Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer said the maintenance plan introduced by the former Eskom CEO three years ago is starting to positively impact the performance of Eskom’s power stations.
Oberholzer recently left the utility following a short stint as a contractor to support the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station long-term operation (LTO) and Kusile Power Station projects.
The former COO had worked at Eskom for 26 years, rising through the ranks to become COO in 2018.
Oberholzer said there is no bad blood between him and Eskom and that he respects everyone that works there.
“The most important reason I left is that I believe I can add more value with my experience, competence, and knowledge of South Africa’s electricity sector outside of Eskom.”
Another reason why Oberholzer cut his two-year contract short was that, as a contractor, he could only give advice to Eskom employees and not implement or act on his knowledge of the utility’s problems.
Despite Eskom’s multiple challenges, Oberholzer believes the tide is turning at the utility with incremental improvements being made.
“I believe that Eskom will come right, although it is going through some very tough times. The plans we have put in place over the last few years are the right ones, and if followed diligently, they will make a significant improvement,” Oberholzer said.
The former COO specifically referenced the maintenance plan initiated by former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter towards the end of 2019.
Just over three years ago, Eskom decided to focus on the maintenance of its fleet, taking units offline for extended periods to conduct proper repairs on the equipment.
“Slowly but surely, I can see there is a positive contribution to performance from that investment. It needs to continue,” Oberholzer told Biznews founder Alec Hogg.
“So, I believe that maybe towards the middle to end of next year, things will come out much better.”
Oberholzer’s claim that De Ruyter’s maintenance plan is bearing fruit appears to be supported by data revealed in a social media post from energy analyst Chris Yelland.
Yelland posted on Saturday that there has been an improvement in Eskom’s week-on-week energy availability factor for week 31 of 2023 from 57.3% to 59.0%, as unplanned outages reduced from 34.07% to 32.83%.
However, Yelland cautioned that the trend is not unusual for the time of year.