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Eskom: answered and unanswered questions

By Staff Writer
On 23 April 2015 Justmoney sent a list of questions through to Eskom requesting comment regarding interim CEO Brian Molefe’s vision for the power utility, as well as information on the then upcoming maintenance festival.
 
Two sets of questions were sent through. One set for Brian Molefe, and the other for a spokesperson from Eskom to address the issues around load shedding, maintenance and the defaulting municipalities.

Click here for the article on Eskom and analysts options of its future.
 
The answers
 
Justmoney received answers to a few of its questions, largely in the form of press releases that Eskom had subsequently sent out following the initial questions.
 
To view the two press releases sent, click here, and here.
 
Justmoney asked Eskom if any progress had been made with regards to the defaulting municipalities, as well as questions about load shedding.
 
These included questions about the maintenance festival, the risk of increased load shedding coming into winter and rumours about longer load shedding times.
 
To see a full list of the questions sent, see below.
 
Eskom’s email response
 
“Attached is a media statement we issued recently after reaching an agreement with some of the defaulting municipalities. The proposal to bypass defaulting municipalities still needs further discussions with SALGA, COGTA, National Treasury and other partners. It is merely a proposal at this stage,” said Eskom.
 
I terms of maintenance, the power utility said:
 
“In summary, about 64% of Eskom’s current installed base load power stations are past their economic midlife, meaning that they require more maintenance and extended restoration time than planned. Midlife refurbishments or replacement being carried timeously reduce equipment failures from occurring, thus improving the ability to provide reliable supply to customers. The focus of the maintenance drive is to ensure long-term reliability and sustainability of our power generating plants. Since December last year, the availability of Eskom’s plant performance has improved from 65% to 74%.
 
“Eskom has largely managed to carry out the maintenance programme with limited implementation of load shedding. In the past seven days (168 hours), Eskom has only had to load shed for 4 hours and 31 minutes.
 
“Importantly, most of Eskom’s maintenance programme is done in summer to ensure reliability of power supply in winter,” said Eskom.
 
When it came to the power supply issue, Eskom said that there is “expected to be sufficient power”, but with winter there could be an increase in the load from 17:30 to 18:30, due to the use of electric heaters, geysers, and cooking.
 
“Winter of this year is expected to be very similar to that of last year. However, the risk is always significantly increased during extreme cold fronts, especially when these occur during the week. As has been the case since winter of 2013, some generation maintenance will continue to be done throughout the winter, but will ramp down in June to assist in ensuring a sustainable generation fleet,” explained Eskom.
 
The power utility went on to explain about independent power producers:
 
“While the number of the independent power producers (IPPs) that are connected to the grid continues to grow and contribute to meeting the country’s energy demands, the contribution over peak is currently not substantial.
 
“In an effort to ensure that Eskom will be able to meet future electricity requirements, the company is currently undertaking a R280-billion capital expenditure programme over 5 years, and building two of the biggest coal-fired power plants in Africa. Since 2001 we added 32 generating units increasing a number of current units to 121,” said Eskom.
 
Eskom also explained that in the next five years, they will add over 17 000MW of new capacity to the national grid;  9 756km of new transmission lines and 42 470MVA of transmission strengthening.
 
“To date over 6 238MW of new capacity has already been added and 5 814km of transmission lines and 29 655MVA have been installed.
 
“Moreover, Medupi Unit 6 was successfully synchronised to the national power grid for the first time on Monday, 2 March 2015, and is currently being progressively tested and optimised to enable it to join the Eskom Generation fleet as a significant contributor to the country’s constrained power supply.
 
“Medupi consists of six units of approximately 800 MW each, for a grand total of 4 800 MW, which is 12% of Eskom’s total installed capacity. Eskom is pulling out all stops to ensure that the completion of the remaining five units is not hampered by technical or labour issues.
 
“Sere Wind Farm near Vredendal in the Western Cape has achieved its full commercial operational capacity of a 100 MW on 31 March 2015. The achievement of this milestone is in line with the commitments made by Eskom in terms of both time and cost and the result of successful interaction between Eskom and our contractors.”
 
The unanswered questions
 
However, some questions remain unanswered, these include the following:
 
Brian Molefe questions:
1.       What is your vision for Eskom going forward?
2.       Do you have any changes or plans for Eskom that you would like to introduce?
a.       If so, what are they?
3.       There are reports of you saying that you would like to bypass municipalities and install prepaid meters, which would help overcome the municipal debt.
a.       Is this idea currently in discussion?
b.      Would any regulations/laws etc. have to change in order for this idea to take effect?
c.       Has anything been done to implement this idea to date?
d.      What would happen to houses that have illegal electricity connections?
e.      What would happen to houses that have outstanding electricity bills either with the municipality or with Eskom?
f.       Would this plan be rolled out in municipal supplied areas or Eskom supplied areas first?
 
Load shedding questions:
1.       Will the “Eskom maintenance festival” mean a higher chance of load shedding over the long weekend?
2.       There are rumours that some parts of the country may start to experience 12 hour load shedding.
a.       Is there any validity to these claims?
b.      What is Eskom’s response to these claims?
3.       With temperatures dropping these past few weeks, has there been an increased in the consumption of electricity?
a.       Is this the reason there has been more frequent load shedding?
b.      As winter approaches, do you believe that more load shedding will be necessary? (i.e. starting load shedding earlier in the morning for the entire day, and having it on a daily basis?)
4.       Has Eskom found that more people are installing solar panels to decrease their reliance on Eskom?
5.       With regards to the municipal debt. Have any of the municipalities repaid their loans, or has any progress been made in getting these payments if they have not already been made?
 
Do you have a question for Eskom? If so, email Justmoney at info@justmoney.co.za and we will send a selection to Eskom.
 

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