Brace yourselves for more disruption – Brown
PUBLIC Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown said yesterday South Africa should brace itself for more disruptions in its power supply as the next two years would be difficult amid efforts by the government to stabilise Eskom and strengthen the country’s power generation capacity.
Meanwhile, Eskom warned South Africans that the risk of power cuts again this weekend were very high.
“The system is expected to remain tight over the evening peaks for the next few days. While the demand for electricity is expected to be met today [Thursday] and tomorrow [Friday], there is a very high risk of load shedding over the weekend,” Eskom said, adding a portion of the capacity normally imported from Cahora Bassa will be unavailable on Sunday as the plant undergoes urgent planned maintenance. It will be second straight weekend of load shedding this month.
Speaking in Parliament during a debate on the Eskom crisis, Brown said as with cars, power plants broke down unexpectedly. “Our problem is that sometimes, like the recent collapse of the coal storage facility at Majuba, too many break down unexpectedly at one time. In simple terms, that is what is happening now,” she told Parliament.
Brown said: “You may then ask: Why are we not making sure that we have more power stations to deal with the planned servicing and any unplanned breakdowns?”
The answer, she said, is that “we are building two very large power stations right now – among the top five in size in the world – and they should have been delivering power by now. And, if they had been available as originally planned, once again, we would not have been having this debate right now. We would have had more than enough power available for all eventualities.”
She said a number of reasons could be ascribed to the delays, including the fact that “some of the international contractors who we hired to build crucial parts of the new power stations let us down badly and we lost many months as we tried to rectify their mistakes”.
Then, too, almost a year had been lost as a result of work stoppages because of strikes, she added.
Looking ahead, she said: “The bad news is that it is going to be very tough for about two years longer and patience will be needed on the part of all citizens.” Brown said “there are major challenges ahead to achieve a much improved outlook in 2018.”
Earlier this week, economists estimated that South Africans might have to wait for another three to five years before enjoying uninterrupted power supply, while the economy continues to take a beating from the expected regular interruptions at a cost of R300bn since 2008.