Mines, for example, which generate their own energy for operations, can also feed the national grid.
President Cyril Ramaphosa wants to turn on the light at the end of SA’s dark electricity tunnel… but it won’t be powered by Eskom.
In the government’s most outspoken admission that its largest state-owned enterprise is a catastrophe, Ramaphosa announced on Thursday that private electricity providers would be allowed to implement “built-in” generation options for up to 100 MW of power each.
This means that mines, for example, which generate their own energy for operations, can also feed the national grid.
READ TOO: Load reduction: how to hack on budget
The relaxation of licensing conditions by the National Electricity Regulator of SA (Nersa) from the current level of just 1 MW will provide a financial incentive to small-scale private power producers, but, more importantly, can significantly reduce demand in the system from Eskom and reduce the need for load reduction.
Political analyst Daniel Silke noted on Twitter that when someone has their backs “against the wall and the lights go out, endangering an entire economy, the harmful ideology of overcentralizing electricity production in Eskom has had to be abandoned.”
He said: “You have to welcome the significant relaxation of the IPP [independent power producers] restrictions of Pres Ramaphosa today [Thursday].
“You must also ask yourself why it took a deep crisis amid so much suffering and warnings for years to adjust this policy.”
However, this was probably no consolation for an increasingly angry country.
From level 2 to level 4, to level 2 to level 3 on Thursday and then maybe back to level 2 again today (Thursday)… people in South Africa kept spinning while Eskom continued to stagger from one collapse to another – even in the Eskom R234 billion Medupi Coal Power Station.
Asked why Eskom’s load shedding levels fluctuated and were not corrected until maintenance was completed, the spokesperson for the Sikonathi Mantshantsha dealer said: “That’s because most of the time we have enough capacity to avoid load shedding and all machines must be used while available.
“There is always a certain amount of capacity put into planned maintenance and Eskom always plans this maintenance to leave enough capacity to keep the lights fully on.
“But these attempts are defeated by breakdowns in the machines that are running – which, if you have a lot of breakdowns, leads to load reduction.
“When demand increases – as it has for the past three weeks due to cold weather – you are forced to increase load reduction to deal with it.”
Unconvinced of Eskom’s justification for the blackouts, energy analyst Ted Blom said that mismanagement and lack of planning are at the heart of the power failure.
“If the CEO of Eskom [André de Ruyter] by fulfilling his promise to the public, we would be moving forward,” he said.
“The fact is that Eskom cannot list a single power station that has been successfully refurbished – in line with the utility’s philosophy of reliability and backed by a [original equipment manufacturer] Warranty.”
Blom said all mills should be “in perfect condition if there was no corruption and competence” at Eskom.
“Forty years for a power plant is not old. There have still been 747 Jumbo jets flying around for over 40 years and Hercules C130s have still been flying for over 70 years,” he said.
“There are many plans but zero implementation, with gross negligence in execution by Medupi, Kusile and Ingula pointing to Eskom’s lack of competent personnel. Eskom has gone from being a world-class utility to the back of the pack – led by useless, rudderless management. ”