Eskom Chief Operating Officer (COO),  Jan Oberholzer, has assured the country that load shedding is not expected to be implemented during the upcoming Local Government Elections.

He was speaking during the power utility’s state of the system briefing on Monday.

The assurances from the COO come after concerns that the country may face power cuts during this weekend’s elections following two consecutive weekends of load shedding this month.

This as special votes are set to be cast on Saturday and Sunday, ahead of Election Day on Monday, 1 November 2021.

Oberholzer said he expects that the power utility will have enough generation capacity.

“We are confident that the way that we manage the system at this point in time is that we make use of some of the emergency [reserves] during the day but we recover it at night [which] assists us to reduce load shedding to a minimum. We have also had a good look at some of the opportunistic maintenance to see how we can plan that.

“Our distribution colleagues are working closely with the IEC [Electoral Commission] to make sure that electricity will be available. I have spoken to the generation, transmission and distribution colleagues to be on standby as from the end of this week until after the voting has taken place to make sure that wherever we do have challenges, Eskom will assist. We have emergency generators available, which will assist wherever we can. We are extremely committed as Eskom, to make sure that there are no electricity challenges going through the elections that are around the corner,” he said.

Maintenance of assets

Turning to longer-term sustainability, Oberholzer said Eskom is currently carrying out its maintenance plans even though this may add constraint to the power system and risk load shedding in the shorter term.

The utility has doubled the amount of maintenance it has carried out since 2019/2020 and will ramp it up as peak maintenance season hits in the summer. The maintenance plan has managed to reduce the amount of days that load shedding has been implemented.

However, Oberholzer has warned that a slowdown in this plan will impact the long term reliability of Eskom’s assets but that taking all generating units off the grid is not a viable option either.

“[This is] to make sure that what we have available [is in equilibrium to the demand].This is why we have decided – although it has a negative impact on available capacity – we will continue with the reliability programme.

“What makes it extremely difficult is the capacity that we have available on the constrained system and the demand of the country…that’s making it difficult for us to take more units off and maintain them properly,” he said. –

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