26 January 2006
The load-shedding that wreaked havoc on South Africa’s economy at the beginning of last year was a learning experience for Eskom, says CEO Jacob Maroga.
The forced rolling blackouts were caused by a higher than expected demand in electricity and low reserve margins. The rapid economic growth led to a higher demand for electricity than there was supply.
In a bid to handle the electricity crisis, the government launched the National Electricity Management Plan and called on citizens, businesses and other organisations to come together and work towards finding solutions to the current power crisis.
Large electricity consumers, such as businesses, agreed to decrease their consumption by 10%, leading to some industries, especially the mining sector, being put under strain.
Briefing the media on the state of electricity supply in the country last week, Maroga said the electricity crisis had presented Eskom with an opportunity to reflect on key issues which needed to be dealt with urgently.
“As we move forward, we need to make sure that we are not where we were before,” he said. “We are going to make sure that power supply is not compromised and that there is additional power to grow the economy.”
Maroga said his organisation had put in place measures to prevent past mistakes, including putting in place a maintenance schedule, improving infrastructure and beefing up capacity and skills.
“The challenges we faced in the past have made us to be wiser to deal with other challenges,” he said.
Eskom is currently building the Kusile Power Station in Mpumalanga, which is said to be the second most advanced coal-fired power plant project after the Medupi power station, also currently being built in Lephalale, Limpopo.
According to Eskom, the station will consist of six units each rated at approximately 800 MW installed capacity, giving a total of 4 800 MW.