Electricity utility Eskom says the measures announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa will enable it to intensify its maintenance efforts to drive improvements to the energy availability factor (EAF) across its coal fleet, where the performance has been “disappointing”.
In a statement released to express its support for the interventions announced on July 25, Eskom said it was placing significant emphasis on recovering the EAF.
Ramaphosa announced that Eskom would, over the next 12 months, increase the budget allocated for critical maintenance to increase the reliability of its generation capacity.
“We are cutting red tape that has made it difficult for Eskom to buy maintenance spares and
equipment within the required period to effect repairs,” the President added.
It was also announced that the utility was recruiting skilled personnel, including former senior Eskom plant managers and engineers from the private sector, to “help to ensure that world-class operating and maintenance procedures are reinstated”.
In a statement, Eskom said the measures announced by the President would enable it to intensify its maintenance efforts to drive improvements in the EAF.
The utility confirmed that it had already reached out to the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) to determine if its members were interested in assisting Eskom to bolster its skills.
During a recent meeting between Eskom and NSBE, the utility highlighted that it had a shortage of technical skills to conduct maintenance and refurbishments on the aging coal fleet.
Eskom also made a commitment to putting concrete plans in place to improve staff morale, and it was agreed that plans to bring back retired artisans and engineers would be carefully managed “with buy in from current employees and unions”.
Ahead of the President’s speech, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan denied that he had specifically approached Solidarity for a list of skilled personnel and insisted that he had made a call to all organisations for skills to support Eskom, regardless of race.
Meanwhile, Eskom said the reforms announced by the President, many of which had been raised by CEO André de Ruyter as possible remedies earlier in the year, would go a long way towards easing the power generation constraints the country had been grappling with for some 14 years.
The utility described as “particularly pleasing” that it would be empowered to speedily acquire additional generation capacity from existing independent power producers (IPPs) with excess capacity, as well as to acquire spares and equipment from original equipment manufacturers.
“Eskom’s efforts to acquire battery energy storage systems (BESS) are already at an advanced stage, with further tranches of BESS roll-out to follow imminently.
“Furthermore, as the President announced, Eskom has already released land with grid connections for long-term leases by independent power producers, with more to follow in the near future.”
Meanwhile, Eskom argued that the move to remove limits to private sector electricity generation would help unlock investments, create jobs during the construction and help lower the cost of electricity in the long term.
Eskom confirmed that it had significantly shortened the time required for IPPs to obtain cost estimate letters and budget quotes for grid access and said it was committed to optimising the process even further.