Eskom issued a press release on 4 September, saying that no loadshedding was implemented during the winter, but while no interruptions are expected over summer, the risk remains because the system is vulnerable.

According to the power utility, the electricity demand in summer is generally lower, but sustained demand throughout the day and not just over the evening peak has its own challenges as people use air-conditioning.

Maintenance is also planned in summer, taking advantage of the overall reduced demand in electricity.

Their objectives over the next seven months is to avoid loadshedding while an average of 5 500 MW planned maintenance is done.

Diesel, pumped-storage and demand response options that includes requesting big industry to switch off when demand peaks, will be used to supplement any shortfall in capacity.

There will also be heightened focus on sustained transmission and distribution network performance, particularly in light of the recent increase in the theft and vandalising of electricity infrastructure.

“We remain confident that we are on course to keeping the lights on for South Africa this summer,” Chief Operating Officer, Mr Jan Oberholzer, said.

Eskom has not implemented loadshedding since 23 March partly due to the successful implementation of the 9-point generation recovery plan, which saw energy availability increasing from 67.7 in April to 70.39 at the end of August.

The demand in electricity was lower for most of winter due to warmer weather and the economic climate, while other emergency resources also contributed significantly towards morning and evening demand peak shaving.

Generation unit breakdowns were maintained at an average 9 500 MW as planned and three non-commercial units from Medupi and Kusile Power Stations delivered an average production of 1300 MW during commissioning phase.

According to the statement, the Cahora Bassa (Apollo HVDC line 2) was successfully recovered, connecting the full compliment of 1 200 MW of imported energy from Mozambique to the grid.

Kriel Unit 2 (475 MW) and Matla Unit 5 (575 MW) that were on long-term outages returned to service adding 1 050 MW to the grid. There was also less usage of the open-cycle gas turbines (OCGT) with the diesel bill sitting at R1.4-bil against a budget of R5.4-bil.

“Our briefing comes against the backdrop of commendable performance in winter, and we are grateful for the support from the Minister of Public Enterprises and the Ministerial Task Team whose report provided valuable input into the 9-point generation recovery plan,” Acting Group Chief Executive, Mr Jabu Mabuza, said.

“We are encouraged by the steady system recovery and new plant units coming on line to give new power into the South African grid as we saw last week with the commissioning of Medupi’s sixth and last unit.”

“We have made notable strides in addressing coal stock challenges and only one power station, Kriel, remains below the grid code requirement.

“No coal-related risks are expected throughout the summer months.”

They concluded by appealing to customers to continue to use electricity sparingly throughout the day by doing the following:

Set air-conditioners’ average temperature in summer at 23ºC

Be energy-efficient and change your light bulbs to energy-efficient lights/LEDs

Use the cold water tap rather than using the geyser every time

Set your swimming pool pump cycle to run twice a day, three hours at a time for optimal energy use.

At the end of the day, turn off computers, copiers, printers and fax machines at the switch. Avoid stand-by or sleep mode.

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