Electricity Minister is lying about the end of loadshedding

  • Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa says that the end of loadshedding is near because Eskom has achieved 65 percent EAF, for the first time since 2021.
  • This is a lie, as it achieved 70 percent EAF in 2023 ahead of the worst loadshedding SA has ever seen.
  • While Eskom is moving in the right direction, its fleet of power stations is still unstable and prone to breakdowns.

In a post on his official Facebook account, Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa says that “the end of loadshedding is within touching distance” because Eskom’s energy availability factor (EAF) – the amount of electricity that the utility can generate against the demand – has now climbed to 65 percent.

It was at 61 percent last week Friday, so a four percent increase has been achieved since then.

Unfortunately for the minister, a high EAF does not mean the end of loadshedding is close. In fact, the highest EAF Eskom managed since May 2022 happened in March 2023, when the utility celebrated a 70 percent EAF.

This was about two months before Eskom delivered a dire warning to South Africans that they could expect Stage 8 blackouts in the winter, as May 2023 was the most loadshed month ever in the history of the republic with a majority of days trapped in either Stage 5 or Stage 6 outages.

Loadshedding by month, by stage in 2023. Image sourced from EskomSePush.

It seems Ramagkopa has simply forgotten (or no one has told him) about this milestone announcement by Eskom, because he says in his post that the last time the utility attained 65 percent EAF was in 2021.

This, of course, is a lie and Eskom’s own official announcements prove this. Either that, or the minister put in charge by President Cyril Ramaphosa to effect the end of loadshedding is ill-informed.

“This milestone validates the viability of the Eskom fleet of generation units and signifies the most efficient path to ending loadshedding. With the proven success of this performance, the focus now shifts to maintaining and enhancing it,” he writes. Indeed it does.

When the utility achieved 70 percent EAF in March 2023, it did so thanks to renewed stability at six of its power stations. This is exactly what is happening right now, with Eskom CEO Dan Marokane saying last week that a renewed focus on maintenance has made Eskom’s generating units more reliable and less probe to breakdowns.

Marokane added that Eskom hopes to reduce unplanned outages across its fleet by another 1 700MW before winter.

The Electricity Minister says that the return of Medupi Unit 4, Koeberg Unit 2 and the synronisation of Kusile Unit 6 is set to add a total of 2 580MW more to the grid over the next six month.

“These orchestrated improvements and new capacity means that we have breached peak loadshedding,” he writes.

“We have indeed turned the corner, the ending of loadshedding is within touching distance.”

These statements are similar to those of interim CEO Calib Cassim last year upon achieving 70 percent.

“While this is still early progress, it shows a positive trajectory from actions taken to recover Eskom generation plants,” he said at the time.

Expect Eskom to make an announcement when it achieves 70 percent EAF again, but don’t expect it to remark about achieving the milestone in 2023. The truth is that Eskom’s fleet of power stations is prone to instability.

Just when Eskom managed to get everything running smoothly in March 2023, it was plagued by a bout of breakdowns that saw South Africa plunged into darkness, sinking further its already sunken economy.

But while the utility has also brought online more renewable power than ever before, and its long-term plans are starting to prove successful. We still can’t take the Electricity Minister at his word because, to put it simply, we have been burned before and in the worst way.

[Image – CC BY-ND 2.0 GovernmentZA on Flickr]


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