Eskom
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While electricity demand in summer is generally lower than in winter, the summer period comes with its own challenges noted Eskom, South Africa’s national power utility.

The change in customer electricity consumption in summer means sustained demand throughout the day and not just over the evening peak as people use air conditioning for cooling.

Eskom also ramps up planned maintenance over the summer period, taking advantage of the overall reduced demand in electricity.

A company statement explained: “Our objectives over the next seven months is to avoid loadshedding while we conduct an average of 5,500MW planned maintenance and work hard at keeping unplanned breakdowns below 9,500MW.

"Diesel, pumped-storage and demand response options, which includes Eskom requesting big industry to switch off when demand peaks, will be used to supplement any shortfall in capacity.”

The power utility warned that there will also be heightened focus on sustained transmission and distribution network performance particularly in light of the recent increase in the theft and vandalising of electricity infrastructure.

“Our objective over summer is to avoid loadshedding, to sustain our plant performance, and to continue to maintain our plant in order to avoid unplanned breakdowns. While the risk of loadshedding always exists, we remain confident that we are on course to keeping the lights on for South Africa this summer,” said Jan Oberholzer, Eskom’s chief operating officer.

Eskom's acting group chief executive, Jabu Mabuza, also commented: “Our briefing comes against the backdrop of commendable performance in winter, and we are grateful for the support from the Minister of Public Enterprises and the Ministerial Task Team whose report provided valuable input into the 9-point generation recovery plan.

“We are encouraged by the steady system recovery and new plant units coming on line to give new power into the South African grid as we saw last week with the commissioning of Medupi’s sixth and last unit.”

Addressing coal stock challenges

Eskom also noted that it has made notable strides in addressing coal stock challenges. Prior to the announcement of the winter plan, 10 of 15 coal-fired power stations were below the prescribed 20 coal stock days as per the Grid Code requirement.

Today, coal stock levels have improved to 495 days, excluding Medupi and Kusile, the company stated.

Only one power station (Kriel) remains below the Grid Code requirement. The utility said it does not expect any coal-related risks throughout the summer months.

“I would like to assure our stakeholders that Eskom remains committed to stabilising our business and to moving towards a sustainable future. Eskom is committed to recovering its operational performance and the generation 9-point recovery plan is on track and will continue to yield positive results,” said Mabuza.

Eskom appeals to customers to continue to use electricity sparingly throughout the day by doing the following:

  • Set air-conditioners’ average temperature in summer at 23ºC.
  • Be energy efficient and change your light bulbs to energy-efficient lights/LEDs.
  • Use the cold water tap rather than using the geyser every time.
  • Set your swimming pool pump cycle to run twice a day, three hours at a time for optimal energy use.
  • At the end of the day, turn off computers, copiers, printers and fax machines at the switch. Avoid standby or sleep mode.