Eskom Interim Group Chief Executive Phakamani Hadebe says the power utility is committed to keeping the lights on this winter, despite low coal stockpiles at six of its power stations.

According to Hadebe coal stockpiles across all coal-fired power stations are at an average of 35 days, excluding the plants under construction which include Medupi and Kusile.

“We have implemented plans to manage a shift in plant performance and coal stock levels making load shedding unlikely this winter,” Hadebe explained at a media briefing at Eskom’s head office in Sunninghill on Thursday.

“The resilience of the power system was evidenced in March this year following a number of plant breakdowns and a number of units on scheduled maintenance. We expect several units to be back on line before the end of this month and will further strengthen the power grid ahead of the winter season,” Hadebe added.

Coal recovery plan

Hadebe assured the country that plans are in place to improve coal stockpile levels at the six power stations that are currently below minimum stock level requirements.

The coal recovery plan includes securing additional coal supplies and a redirection of coal stock from other power stations’ coal yards to address the imbalance at the six power stations.

According to the Hadebe the utility is also concluding an interim coal supply agreement with the Tegeta business Rescue practitioners to enable coal supply to Hendrina Power Station, while the business rescue process is in progress.

Coal for the next five years

In addition, Eskom is currently negotiating tenders for 100 million tons of coal that is required for the next five years.

“The challenge of coal stock levels below the required target at some of our power stations is not ideal, especially as the organisation prepares for the traditionally higher energy usage period in winter.

“We have however put measures in place to mitigate the situation and if the current state does not improve, we will meticulously reassess the situation, review our plans and take the necessary action,” Hadebe said.

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