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Load shedding: Gordhan cracks the whip

‘We have to serve South Africa better.’

Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan on Thursday announced immediate plans to put an end to the load shedding that has been a daily occurrence countrywide since November 29 and threatens to gobble up any green shoots of economic growth.

Gordhan had called the Eskom leadership back from an investor roadshow to its Megawatt Park headquarters to get to the bottom of the problem and, after a meeting of several hours, set out the immediate steps at a hastily convened media briefing. These are aimed at reducing the supply restriction from 2 000 megawatts (MW) (stage 2 load shedding) to 1 000 MW (stage 1) by the end of next week and to stop load shedding completely before Christmas.

Leave cancelled

He announced that the leave of all Eskom senior managers has been cancelled and that they will be deployed to power stations. This deployment is firstly to find out for themselves what is going on on the ground, but also to ensure that the people with the right technical skills are where they are needed, rather than sitting behind desks at head office.

He criticised Eskom and municipalities for not communicating clearly and instructed them to have a close look at load shedding schedules and what can be done to ensure they bear out in reality.

Gordhan also disclosed more detail about the design errors at Eskom’s new Medupi and Kusile power stations, which he largely attributed to Hitachi. He said a forensic investigation is underway and early indications are that “big contractors” are falling short in their design and construction of “big components” like the coal grinding mills, boilers and filters.

‘Treasonous’

In what was an apparent swipe at former Eskom head of generation Matshela Koko, he called on former Eskom bosses to stop undermining the utility and publishing “treasonous” tweets. Gordhan also hinted at an “element of sabotage” as the fight against corruption turns off the taps for implicated individuals.

Koko responded on Twitter: 

At the briefing Gordhan said Eskom has 47 000 MW of installed capacity – but with capacity currently offline for maintenance and breakdown repairs, as well as the ‘reserve margin’ (which must be kept at all times), is 2 000 MW short of being able to supply the current demand of about 29 000 MW.

This is the result of unplanned breakdowns of ageing power plants that have not been properly maintained since 2010, Gordhan said. When maintenance does take place, the quality of the work by Eskom employees and contractors is questionable, which also reflects on Eskom’s supervision of contractors and its consequence management, Gordhan said.

He said while Eskom has lacked the funds to do the necessary maintenance, it also lacked proper planning to have the right spares at hand at the right time. In some cases it takes up to 18 months to manufacture the components and unless ordered in time, Eskom won’t be in a position to do the required repairs right away.

Gordhan also said the department of public enterprises should “have a handle on what is happening at Eskom”, but its capacity has been depleted with only one technical expert at its disposal. “We have to strengthen our capacity for monitoring and understanding” issues at Eskom, he said.

Eskom has now been instructed to draft a plan to address its current challenges from week to week until the end of January, Gordhan said. It must be clear who takes responsibility, what the time frames are and what the consequences will be if targets are not met.

The plan must be ready early next week, he said.

Stage 0.25 load shedding

He added that with the electricity demand being lower over the holiday period from mid-December to mid-January, he expects there should be no load shedding. By mid-January to the end of March there should not even be stage 1 load shedding (1 000 MW supply limitation), but “a quarter” stage.

He questioned why Eskom was able to conclude coal contracts “overnight” to assist the Gupta family, but now says it will take a year to conclude new coal supply contracts. “Something is wrong in the kingdom,” he said.

He called on Eskom’s management to act with more urgency and said “we have to serve South Africa better”.

Gordhan said president Cyril Ramaphosa will announce the formation of a cabinet task team to configure a road map for Eskom for the next five years and that any restructuring of Eskom’s R419 billion debt will be assessed in terms of this road map.

There is nothing definite about numbers currently being quoted in this regard he said, apparently referring to an earlier report that Eskom wants government to take over R100 billion of its debt.

Listen: What load shedding means for businesses

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Here is hoping that Gordhan’s efforts are not undermined! Loadshedding has a terrible impact multiples of the cost of backup generators

They were gifted a fully functional and capable utility back in 94. The momentum of that planning went ok for about 10 years and then the wheels started coming off. These people cannot maintain a wheelbarrow or plan for tomorrow.

Well said pal! Incidentally I see no whip cracking in any way shape or form, he’s moved a couple of Megawimp Park tapeworms around and made some noises to appease Joe and Mrs. Sixpack and that’s about it.
Call me when this guy (who, by the way was VERY Gungho on eTolls a few years back when he was Min of Fin)phones the cops to arrest the entire board and top 10% of the Eskom Damagers on the CORRECT charge of HIGH TREASON, then we can refer to some whip cracking.
Yesterday’s show was more joke cracking actually.

is it true that Hadebe’s net monthly salary is R 404,201.58 ( Annual R 8,521,128.00 )……for doing f….all!

Yip-this is the ANC in action.Africa at its best.

…..fully functional land in every way Casper…fully functional LAND.

Oh I don’t know maybe because the rest of south africa was excluded before 94, marginalised areas and the rest of the 90% South Africa are expected to use a system that was foundationally designed to exlude the rest. Eskom alone will not do. We need more players in all SOE’s

But the wheels came off 14 years after 1994?

Is this the same Gordhan who insisted the unions get their way with pie-in-sky increases?

Cracking the whip, oh please!

At least he is doing something.

This was a press conference by the losing captain after being knocked out in the first round.

The only thing Gordhan has done while minister of public enterprises was to bow to terrorist demands: give us an increase or we will destroy.

Minister Pravin Gordhan is not going to be duped by the Eskom game players, he knows that Eskom was heisted by snatch thieves and will sort them out. There are many good people at Eskom, let Gordhan get rid of the idiot and criminal component and the good people will sort out the place.

I’m so tired of the ANC.

Gordhan is just another cadre, doing cadre things.

i cannot believe that so few people see thru gordhan …. … ….

I could not agree more with you! As Finance minister for the Zuptas South Africas economy started collapsing. He was the man behind state guarantees for various SOEs and for the destruction of wealth and jobs.

Remember he is a senior member of the communist party-his DNA thinks like East Germanys rubbish leadership-and the results are consistent with this leadership and philosophy ie failure!!

Zero respect for him-but he has a tongue that is smooth!

don’t worry…. the EFF will whip him up…this henchman of Ramoposa….no wonder there is so much ANC infighting, the cadres knows about all the dirty secrets off each other.

Eskom hit the coal cliff, the grid is dilapidated, the power stations are falling apart, the cadres are fighting over the petty-cash, the BEE parasites are killing the host, the vultures who supply diesel are circling overhead, the consumers do not pay, the bond market dried up, and big daddy in Luthuli Hose does not answer the phone any more.

Lets face it, Eskom is gone, beyond saving. Pravin Gordhan is like a guy in a rubber-duck with a blowtorch trying to save the Titanic.

The fingers all point to Luthuli House. This is where the problem began. This is where the problem grew and this is where the problem will end. There is only one solution – bring all new green energy projects on board immediately. Don’t waste time with tender rounds. Green energy projects can save us from load-shedding within 12 months. This is the most affordable and quickest solution. The grid is about to topple over, we ran out of time.

Re the first paragraph, you have a talent for writing.

You are right, I think people would be shocked if we saw how much generating capacity (already installed for off grid purposes) is just sitting on the sideline, allow net metering, and give say 60 cents per kWh and see how much generating capacity suddenly joins in.

PJJ

It actually goes much bigger : self consumption plus net metering. It is already huge and totally discounted / ignored when people say we have 40GW generating capacity.

I know of many pretty large solar installations (100-900 kVA) where the numbers basically work out as follows:
Say the site used 1000 units before, all from the grid.
They add solar, which generates say 600.
Of that 600, they self consume 450 and export 150.
They drop from 1000 grid user to 550 grid user, but the other 150 they exported is also 150 less that feskom had to supply

Well said Sensei!! You deserve an extra “DAN” black belt!

The easiest (short-term) way out of Eskom, is for Nersa to give in to Eskom’s tariff increase demand.

That will buy the public (and industry) a few years’ time to set up solar-PV systems for almost everyone, and get off the grid. At some point in time the future cost-comparison will cross between Eskom’s rate & self-funded PV-solar.

And no tax on it either…I encourage all suppliers to go rogue (just like the thugs in Govt). We WILL NOT comply with any proposed PV-solar tax…the public need to give it the same boycott treatment as Gauteng’s E-Toll fiasco!
(…surely, same principle is we don’t pay a special tax on Healthcare or private security, because Govt can’t provide the basics).

There is already a tax deduction for businesses installing solar capacity. Full depreciation in the first year.

The cut over point where being off grid becomes feasible is when you are paying more than R3.50 per kWh (all in, line costs included).

What does Eskom charge consumers now? (I don’t know myself, off grid for 4 years)

@ DogEatDog. Kudos for you getting off-grid! Well done.

What I meant by “tax” is the so-called “levies” that some Muni’s (like WC) proposed to charge PV-solar users. In the sense of one either pays Eskom (where Muni’s profit as middleman) or you’re off-grid, but pay a “levy” of sorts….to make up the loss to the muni.

This proposed levy or tax on solar is rubbish. (Am not referring to 15% VAT). Surely we do not pay a levy/tax on private Healthcare or security services (besides Vat), why should one pay govt to use solar?

It’s like taxing the free Sun 😉

Sensei you hit the nail on the head..! I love your rubberduck analogy..

I would just add, cut the fat at Eksdom (sorry Eskom) How is it possible that we have an economist now running the place. Surely it needs an engineer. And the guy earns R400 K plus per month while we have loadshedding..? On another forum I was told that mining CEO’s earn way more then that. But the mines are at least mining..?

We are sitting with huge potential in renewables..!

Renewables are not the answer. Electricity is an on-demand product and renewables are extremely intermittent. To smooth out the supply we need grid-level storage, but unfortunately cheap, reliable and renewable grid-level storage does not currently exist.

This is true currently only for industry and users who consume much electricity during night hours. The average citizen however, with a bit of lifestyle and attitude change, can currently get off the grid totally. I know, as I am off the grid. I don’t feed electricity into the grid. There is no grid where I live. There are large storage schemes which will also sort out other problems. As example using existing and new dams (which we need) as batteries by pumping water from a low level to a higher head during wind/sun periods and releasing the water through turbines during night time. Ideally one should mix all the different electricity generating schemes and allow small setups to participate without prejudice. In Germany for instance, small rivers have weirs equipped with turbines, these are installed at relatively short intervals. This is not the case in SA, and there are many places where this can be done, especially in KZN. There are answers to these problems, but their opponents belittle them as they have self-serving opinions that are not in the interest of anyone but themselves. Everyone thinks you must generate megawatts to add a meaningful contribution. This is rubbish. You need hundreds of thousands contributors. You need society to participate. The availability of electricity is everyone’s problem and we should all be able to contribute.

nothing will happen and it will go on for long

In other words, a new board and a new CEO will be appointed and a new turn around plan implemented which will produce zero results and then a new board and a new CEO will be appointed and a new turn around plan implemented which will produce zero results and then a new board and a new CEO will be appointed and a new turn around plan implemented which will produce zero results and so on JUST LIKE at SAA…..

Whip? What whip?
Come on please what a joke.
We have no whips. We only talk.
After the Dec elections what have changed with SOE’s ? What?

blah! blah! blah!….hollow words….rather tell me how the PIC is involved in the “rescue” plan?

So the shareholder is now the making managment decisions? What could go wrong that has not already?

It had to happen. Management was screwing things up and hiding behind bureaucratic red tape where as an economy is going on the downfall.

I commend all efforts taken to make things right. Loadshedding is not lekker and definitely bad for business.

Would like to know what Pravin pic is gesturing.
Length and girth?
Bend over Eskom. No Vaseline this time…

It is very interesting to see the parties attacking Gordhan.

EFF, BLF and this new anti-poverty party.

Surely even the average South African can see through this cabal of corrupt individuals and people who have no other skills but to picket. Koko can be added to that list as he continues his false and manipulative anti-IPP rhetoric.

Gordhan you are as cluless as they come. Bring back Brian, Koko and their team. These are the only people who know how generation of electricity is done. Phamarcists, accountants, HR people, lawyers sit down and let real engineers do the work. What was the reason for disrupting Brian and his team? For meeting Atul? We are not blind as you may think. When a brother is doing exceptional things, what do you do, soil him..Bring back Mr Molefe..otherwise enjoy the blackouts, and the good thing they affect everyone, including you spoilers.. ICHO.

Wow Minister Gordhan, thank you for the courage to uncover the BS. You have my vote for the next SA President!

Why is Pravin always sent to crack the whip? Is there no one else capable?

Eskom and in fact all SoE’s are problem generators not one of them has the capability or the capacity to move from problem identification to solution rectification – all seem to want to stick out a hand for bailouts and club the taxpayers and paying consumers like seal clubbing
Charge management with treason and then see a shift in urgency and problem resolution – when your life depends on your choices its amazing to see the solutions flow and you get to save your life

The solution to the problem is to let the whole network collapse, i.e. attain black-out status. As the ANC haven’t got a clue as to how to reinstate a first world engineering enterprise, they would need to approach the USA, Europe, India or China for technical expertise and cash injection. S.A. would then undergo a period of recolonisation and we would have a reliable power source. There would be terms imposed of course by these “colonisers”.

Consumers now pay about R1844 for 1000kwh,so the R3.50 is 3-4 years away if Eskom gets 20% per annum increases.

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