Power utility Eskom has told South Africans to prepare for a long weekend “maintenance festival.” According to the parastatal, staff will use this weekend to repair broken generating units to make sure there is no backlog this winter.
Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe however said the risk of load shedding was minimal because there was a lower demand for electricity over weekends.
“There are two primary reasons for load-shedding at the moment – colder weather and pre-emptive maintenance,” said Phasiwe.
Eskom explained to Engineering News that almost 64% of Eskom’s current installed base-load power stations were past their midlife, requiring longer outages and extended restoration time than planned.
“Timeous midlife refurbishments or replacement reduce equipment failures from occurring, thus improving the ability to provide reliable supply to customers,” it said in a statement.
To ensure there was no backlog during winter, Eskom would take a number of generating units offline, while broken down units would be repaired. The utility said the maintenance to be done at the weekend did not imply that there would be load-shedding.
“On a normal day-to-day [basis] we do have maintenance, but with the approaching long weekend, or weekends, in general, the demand for electricity tends to drop,” it said, noting that it would take advantage of this opportunity to ramp-up the large maintenance.
Eskom warned, however, that the risk for load-shedding remained, should anything unexpected happen. Since December, the availability of Eskom’s plant performance improved from 65% to 70%. This is in line with the company’s vision of achieving 80% plant availability, 10% planned maintenance and 10% unplanned maintenance in the next three years. The adherence to regular scheduled maintenance was set to limit unplanned maintenance below 7,500 MW in summer and below 5,500 MW in winter.