Two further suspicious incidents likened to sabotage have occurred at Eskom power stations on Thursday 19 May and Friday 20 May.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordan told Parliament that on Friday morning, officials at Hendrina Power Station in Mpumalanga were unable to start up unit five and upon inspection found that during the night copper bars on the unit’s generator had been removed, and reactor earth bars, had also been removed.

This incident comes after Eskom had confirmed an act of sabotage at the Tutuka Power Station earlier in the week.

A cable had been severed as the power station was finalizing preparations to return Unit 5 to service.

On the same day, a control air pipe supplying the turbine systems had been cut with a power tool and partly removed.

In his department’s budget vote, Gordhan told Parliament: “Eskom is taking urgent steps to improve the performance of generation. Daily production and oversight meetings are held to hold power station management accountable for performance. An operations excellence initiative is also in place which to identify the major causes of underperformance and to make improvements. At selected power stations war rooms will be set up to ensure that production challenges get tackled in a systematic way.”

Stellenbosch mayor, Gesie van Deventer, says the Stellenbosch Municipality started fighting back in January 2021 to protect residents and businesses from loadshedding.

Van Deventer says the municipality has determined that the town needs 75MW of electricity, during peak times, to completely avoid the implementation of loadshedding.

She says the ultimate goal is to, in the near future, be completely independent of Eskom for electricity.

Van Deventer says the municipality supports the DA’s call for Eskom to be declared a state of disaster.

She agrees that drastic change is needed at the power utility to restore the country’s generation capabilities to full capacity.

The Democratic Alliance this week called on the government to declare a state of disaster at power-utility, Eskom.

The party says ridding the country of loadshedding is a whole of society approach anchored on making energy-generation South Africa’s biggest priority over the next 5 years.

DA spokesperson for Energy, Kevin Mileham says loadshedding has robbed unemployed South Africans of the chance of finding employment.

Mileham says the power interruptions also damage the country’s reputation as an investment destination.

Read the mayor’s complete statement here.

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Power-utility, Eskom, says it made available land in Mpumalanga for the erection of renewable-energy production plants.

CEO Andre de Ruyter says the 4 000 hectares of land will allow private investors to set up generation facilities close to coal-fired power stations.

De Ruyter says the additional capacity, generated by these new, privately-managed plants, would give Eskom the headroom to take some of its aging generation units off the grid.

He says this will allow them to then perform much-needed repairs and maintenance without putting the national grid under additional pressure.

De Ruyter says interest from private businesses has been impressive.

He also says the power utility is working closely with the Department of Energy to fast-track the process of getting more electricity generators connected to the national grid.

De Ruyter says they are also cooperating with the Independent Power Producers office to assist, where they can, with the implementation of Windows 5 and 6 of the IPP programme.

He says to bring loadshedding to an end is of greatest priority.

Watch the full briefing here.

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In his weekly newsletter, President Cyril Ramaphosa has reassured South Africans that there is light at the end of the Eskom tunnel. On 11 April 2021 Eskom implemented Stage 2 loadshedding when Unit 5 tripped at Medupi Power Station wiping 700 MW from the national grid.

The light at the end of the loadshedding tunnel dimmed as more generation units tripped over the Easter weekend and Eskom was forced to implement Stage 4 loadshedding nationally.

In his weekly newsletter, Ramaphosa says the current phase of loadshedding is the “result of policy missteps and the impact of state capture over many years.” Ramaphosa writes: “To solve this intractable problem, we need to understand its roots. South Africa’s fleet of coal-fired power stations are old and their performance is deteriorating.”

“Despite warnings from energy experts about impending energy shortages nearly two decades ago, there was a delay in commissioning new generation capacity. When construction began on Medupi power station in Limpopo in 2007 it was the first power station to be built by Eskom in more than 20 years. Medupi has subsequently been beset by delays, costs overruns, and breakdowns due to design problems, with many of these challenges linked to allegations of corruption.”

During a report back session to Members of Parliament, Eskom board member and head of Business Leadership SA, Busisiwe Mavuso walked out when she believed the current board and management were being blamed for all the failures they inherited at the power supplier.

In his newsletter, Ramaphosa reiterated his support for the board of Eskom and their turnaround strategy. “We owe the board and management of Eskom our full support as they work to turn the utility around. They have to keep the lights on while rebuilding Eskom as a viable entity that fulfills its developmental mandate as a state-owned enterprise, and positioning it for a just energy transition.”

Deputy President David Mabuza says government is looking at repurposing up to 7 of Eskom’s power plants, to ensure a more reliable electricity supply to the national grid.

Mabuza was answering questions in Parliament yesterday and said the bouts of loadshedding the country experiences have had a severe negative impact on the economy.

Mabuza says there is also currently a greater drive to incorporate renewable-energy sources into South Africa’s energy mix.

Watch Mabuza’s full address here.

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