Work underway to return units affected by boiler tube leaks: Ramokgopa

Pres Ramaphosa regrets load shedding – Presidential Spokesperson

Minister in the Presidency for Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, says teams are working around the clock to return to service the units that have contributed to load shedding being intensified to stage 6 over the weekend.

Giving an update on the performance of the grid following the escalated levels of load shedding, Ramokgopa on Sunday said boiler tube leaks at nine units contributed to the load shedding being bumped up to stage 6.

Ramokgopa said from Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 4 400 megawatts were taken off the grid.

“Eskom management has taken a decision, having identified boiler tube leaks as a major area of concern that undermines the availability of these units, to work directly with the original equipment manufacturers, so that they do not go through the middleman. They are engaging with the people who had designed these units.

“The people who know the DNA of these units are the ones who are assigned the responsibility to deal with this, so that we are able to do a proper root cause analysis, and be able to diagnose and then provide a prognosis, and return these units to service at the quickest possible period of time, having taken into account all safety concerns,” Ramokgopa said.

The power stations whose units had contributed to the 4 400 megawatts include Lethabo, Matimba, Duvha, Majuba, Camden, Grootvlei, Kriel and Medupi.

“Our planned maintenance is at about 7 000MW… If it means we ramp up load shedding for the purposes of conducting planned maintenance… we will be able to return the units healthier… for the long-term gain,” said Ramokgopa. 

Ramokgopa said two of the units, Lethabo 5 and Kriel 2, have since come back online, with work underway to get the unit at Medupi back online.

The Minister added that Matimba 2, Kendal 3 and 4 were expected to return on Sunday. 

“We are expecting to return [the other units] that failed… by Wednesday. By Tuesday, we are expecting to see a significant reduction, going back to stages 4, 3, 2, and 1 [of load shedding]… As part of planned maintenance, a significant portion of units will come back towards the beginning and end of March, where we will be moving from 7 000MW, to lower levels of between 5 000MW and 6 000MW, where you are going to see significantly improved intensity of load shedding. 

The Minister said by March, they are expecting to see significant improvements in the intensity of load shedding.

“We can account for the sources of failure. We know what the issues are… We are working on ensuring that we return these units, and if there are other issues, the board and the executive will look at that,” Ramokgopa said. 

Loadshedding reduced to stage 5

Meanwhile, Eskom has announced that load shedding stage 5 will be implemented from 12pm on Sunday.

According to a statement, Eskom has over the past 48 hours successfully replenished its pumped storage dam levels, bringing some generation units back to service.

“This enables the reduction of load shedding to stage 5 from 12pm until further notice. Eskom will closely monitor the power system and communicate any changes to load shedding, should it be required,” Eskom said. 

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