【Ferro-alloys.com】Eskom says that apart from battling with poor infrastructure, it has a major skills shortage.
Eskom was on Monday evening updating the media on its system challenges. The briefing came after the power utility announced that it would implement stage 2 load-shedding from 9pm Monday to 5am on Tuesday.
Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer said the utility had to implement load-shedding after losing a unit each at Camden, Kusile, Duvha and Matla power stations.
“We need to preserve our emergencies. We want to make sure we manage our system and protect the integrity of our system,” Oberholzer said, adding that after their system status update early Monday morning, the feedback was that the system would recover.
“This morning we had returned three units to service from about 2.30am to about 4pm, but on a negative side, we had seven breakdowns. This is due to the unpredictability and unreliability we had to deal,” he said.
Oberholzer said the utility also faced challenges in terms of human capital.
“We have 4,000MW of units at risk. Some of the units need to have reliability maintenance done on them. I have been to Majuba station because we had significant coal challenges. We had no coal being fed into the bunkers. We have two conveyors; both of them were standing, and a manual feeder that had broken down,” said Oberholzer.
The utility was also struggling to get Transnet to honour its commitment to provide two trains a day.
“What I found there is that we have a challenge in terms of skills. We also have a challenge in terms of understanding the urgency. While we have a system challenge in terms of unreliability, we have a significant challenge in terms of human capital.
“If we look at the commitments made by the power stations, we will return to service a number of units between now and tomorrow,” he said.
He said if the utility did not experience breakdowns again, it could bring back another 2,000MW on Tuesday.
“Depending on how many units return successfully and how many breakdowns we have, we may have to implement load-shedding,” he said. “We apologise to the public for what we are putting the country through. We will try our best to normalise and fix the system.”
Generation group executive Phillip Dukashe said the utility’s performance was disappointing.
“If you look at where we were at the weekend, we were worried we would have too much energy … and yet going into this morning, things started going poorly. We’ve had some units tripping. We had delays in return of units that were supposed to come back during the day to assist in terms of capacity.”
The rain had also contributed to delays in performance, Dukashe said.
There was an increase in mills choking and coal not flowing.
“If things go well, we should be looking fairly OK tomorrow. A unit might trip, but if you don’t have adequate skills to address that risk, you may lose the unit or part of it. We are trying to inject skills. We are recruiting as we speak,” he said.
He said utility was also trying to bringing in companies that would help stabilise the system and power stations.
“Those skills are needed to prepare for outages. We do continue to drive outage readiness because for us it can turn our performance around. We are not satisfied with some of the outages we’ve had.
“Some of the units have been delayed coming back because our outage readiness was poor. We’ve had major delays in returning some of the units,” Dukashe said. “Where we are is disappointing and it’s tiring. We are working hard to try to turn the situation around,” he added.
Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter said the utility was implementing consequence management against power station management and staff who were not performing.
“We are not satisfied at all with the performance of some of our senior executives,” he said.
He said had given instructions to implement sanctions against those implicated.
“I can give the public the assurance that we are not going to be tolerating poor performance and we will be taking appropriate action against underperforming people who do not live up to their duty,” he said.
He said once those implicated were informed, the utility would update the public.