Stage 6 load-shedding: Flooded coal mines, faulty cables and breakdowns

Eskom says it had to go to stage 6 due to a technical problem at the Medupi Power Station. eNCA political reporter Samkele Maseko asked leaders of the power utility to explain. Courtesy #DStv403

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom says Stage 6 load-shedding was caused by a number of issues, including a faulty electrical cable supplying coal to the Medupi power station. 

READ: Stage 4 load-shedding continues, for now

Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer says investigations are underway to establish what caused this. 

"We picked up a problem at Medupi where we lost supply - two cables ... taking the coal into the bunker and then into the power station. That took us some time to resolve and figure out why this happened."

Oberholzer says the incessant rain makes coal handling extremely difficult.

"Kriel mine has been flooded completely – so we’ve received no coal – not a kilogram of coal on the conveyers. We had to shut down two units in the power station and reduce others because of a lack of coal." 

Oberholzer says there were also unplanned breakdowns at a number of units.

"We have a number of units – in excess of 12 units – that have had unplanned breakdowns. Half of them have been to boiler tube leaks – it takes some time to fix this."

UPDATE: Load-shedding moves to stage 6

Oberholzer says the existing coal-fired power plant is unreliable and unpredictable due to a lack of maintenance over the last decade. Eskom's average coal-fired plant is close to 40 years old.

"If you look at a body, it needs to be looked after. When you get older you need to look more often at this body and when you find something, you've got to do something about it. This is something we have not done."

Despite the move to stage 6 load-shedding Oberholzer says the situation is under control. 


Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan says some tough questions have to be asked.

“We have to ask a lot of questions, about how do we get, what I call partials that are off-grid at the moment or offline. How do we improve the level of maintenance? How do we get better quality of repair work done on some of the boiler tube leaks and other technical problems that we have? And ho do we recover from the flooded power stations as well.”

“Our goal is to get to normality,” added Gordhan.

Gordhan says load-shedding is not a big crisis but rather a “manageable crisis".


Paid Content