Get used to load shedding – Minister Brown

Picture: Thinkstock

Picture: Thinkstock

As the country experienced a second day of stage three load shedding on Wednesday, Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown assured South Africans that it was in no way an indication of a total collapse of the electricity grid.

“Load shedding at stage three shows the seriousness of the constraints that we face but it is in no way an indication that we are close to a blackout,” she told journalists in Parliament after being briefed by acting Eskom board chairman Ben Ngubane.

Brown confirmed the country had lost almost a third of its generating capacity due to planned and unplanned maintenance work being done at the country’s power plants.

On Tuesday, the grid lost 9500 megawatts of power due to unplanned outages at power plants.

“In this last week about 500 megawatts was taken off the grid to do maintenance but then… unplanned plants went off without us knowing they are going to go off,” said Brown.

This was placing extra strain on the units at power plants which were operating optimally.

She believed load shedding was essential to prevent a complete shutdown of the grid.

“We have to balance it because if we don’t balance the grid we are in great danger of a blackout in the country so constantly they are in the control room making sure that the grid is balanced so that we don’t go over to a really dangerous part of what we can experience,” Brown said.

“My view is that we must stick to the maintenance because it’s because we’ve deferred maintenance in the past that we are where we are today.”

While some of the plants would come on line this week, Brown said South Africans should brace themselves for a tough two years ahead.

“It is expected the situation would continue throughout winter when the consumption is higher as the constraints on the grid means that planned, controlled,and rotational load shedding and load curtailment, are introduced to protect the power system.”

At the same time, Brown was hoping an inquiry into Eskom’s affairs would provide her with answers.

This included answers on the cash strapped utility’s liquidity situation and on what led to many of the supply problems facing Eskom.

“Eskom is too big in our lives to not give us security and surety.”

Two companies were currently in the running to conduct the inquiry after the Eskom board dumped consultant Nick Linnell after former chairman Zola Tsotsi appointed him without following proper corporate procedures.

Brown, however, declined to name the companies.

“They [the board] have established new terms of reference and I think the last time I heard they were making decisions. My only prerequisite was that it’s independent,” she said.

READ MORE: No danger of complete electricity blackout in SA – Minister




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