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Statement by Mr Malusi Gigaba MP, Minister of Public Enterprises, on the Eskom State of the System Briefing in Parliament on 25 August 2011

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Statement by Mr Malusi Gigaba MP, Minister of Public Enterprises, on the Eskom State of the System Briefing in Parliament on 25 August 2011
25/08/2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
 
Statement by Mr Malusi Gigaba MP, Minister of Public Enterprises, on the Eskom State of the System Briefing in Parliament on 25 August 2011
 
Electricity plays a pivotal and catalytic role in our economy and a constrained electricity supply can be a constraint to the development of our economy.
In this regard, we had promised earlier this year before the winter season started that we would do all in our power to ensure that the events of early 2008 when electricity demand outstripped the available supply and we experienced supply interruptions that impacted severely on our country did not recur and even though the system would be tight and constrained, we would meet the demand.
I think as Brian Dames, CEO of Eskom, is going to demonstrate in his presentation, we did well to fulfil our promise.
 
We had said that we would not be able on our own to deal with the challenge to conserve energy and thus avert outages, and we requested fellow South Africans to cooperate with us to ensure that sufficient capacity was conserved for days when the demand would be highest during the winter season, and our people did not disappoint.
 
For that, as we stand on the door-step of spring, we wish profusely to thank the people of South Africa who conscientiously joined the effort to save electricity.
 
Again, we wish to reiterate it that this is a collective responsibility towards which every single one of the 49m South Africa must play their important part. We cannot do it alone!
Whilst we have been able to avert a repeat of what happened in 2008 to date, it is no secret that our electricity supply and demand is delicately balanced requiring increased vigilance and a heightened level of operational scrutiny and focus from the Eskom employees and managers tasked with ensuring that we have reliable and secure supply of electricity.
I, personally, and the Deputy Minister and leadership team at the Department are kept apprised of the state of the Eskom Power System on a daily basis and are aware of the sometimes extraordinary measures and the resolve required to ensure that the supply, demand balance is maintained.
 
That we are almost through the winter period and the fact that Eskom has been successful in managing a tight system by maintaining a secure and reliable electricity supply during this period of heightened demand, attests to the initiatives which have been put in place to increase system security.  To mention a few:
•       Eskom’s power stations and transmission lines have performed well, and
•       Some 600MW of power has been supplied into the national grid over the winter period by independent power producers and municipal generators of a total of 891MW that has been signed up, effectively negating the loss of one of the units at Duvha Power Station.
The recent coal miners’ strike and its potential impact on Eskom’s fuel stocks was of concern, but Eskom did have contingency plans in place and coal stockpiles at the power stations dropped from 38 days before the strike to 36 days by the end of the strike which was thankfully resolved relatively speedily. Eskom is busy rebuilding its stockpiles so that it will enter the rainy season with some confidence of fuel adequacy.
 
We know that the system will become increasingly tight until such time that Eskom’s new base-load power stations start to deliver electricity into the grid starting with the first power from Medupi scheduled for the end of 2012.
 
During this period, the role of non-Eskom generators in supplying much needed power into the grid as well as the drive to increase energy efficiency levels in all sectors of the economy will be paramount in ensuring that we have a secure supply of electricity.
The next challenge facing electricity supply security is the summer maintenance season for Eskom because it is in those months that Eskom must do the necessary planned maintenance to ensure its power stations and power lines can operate reliably throughout the year with maximum availability in winter.
 
I would like to appeal to all South Africans, including the Residential consumers as well as business and industry to redouble their efforts to increase energy efficiency at all levels.
We cannot do it alone!
If everybody plays their part, it will assist in creating the necessary space for Eskom to catch up on its maintenance backlog as well as perform the necessary routine maintenance of its plant and networks.
 
An added benefit will be the reduction in the impact of the significant but necessary increases in electricity prices on those consumers that become more energy efficient.
In addition to every South African playing their part, my Department is working with Eskom on additional interventions to provide more space for maintenance, but many of those options come at a cost, which will need to be carefully considered in light of the substantial tariff increases already required to bring our electricity prices to cost reflective levels.
 
In this regard, it is important to call on all national government departments, the State-Owned Enterprises, all government agencies, as well as provincial and municipal governments to develop and implement energy-saving measures to support both Eskom in particular and the country in general to have sufficient capacity available at all times.
Increased attention needs to be paid to the supply of electricity at the Distribution level and the networks that supply electricity directly into the businesses and homes, because if those are not secure and reliable, all of our efforts in Generation and Transmission will come to nought. 
 
Illegal connections and electricity and cable theft only serve to exacerbate the problem by placing additional undue pressure on our Distribution networks, resulting in more power outages at the local level than is necessary and must be addressed.
These are issues that Government intends treating as serious economic offences and others as economic sabotage so that necessary seriousness is attached by the law-enforcement institutions to their combating.
 
In the long term, the successful implementation of the IRP2010, the integrated resource plan for electricity supply up to 2030, will ensure that South Africa enjoys a sustained secure supply of electricity far into the future. Eskom already has an important role to play in the delivery of new power generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure in South Africa as evidenced by its current build programme.
 
In closing, I would like to commend Eskom for managing to ensure a secure, reliable supply of electricity through the winter period so far and I am confident that the heightened levels of vigilance over system security will be maintained as we move into the high planned plant maintenance summer season where the risks to security of supply are once again elevated.
I appeal to all electricity consumers in South Africa to do their part to conserve electricity and increase energy efficiency levels.
 
We cannot do it alone! The efforts of all 49m South Africans count!
Thank you.
 
For enquiries: Mayihlome Tshwete, Ministerial spokesperson, 072 8692477,
Issued by the Department of Public Enterprises

Page last modified:24/02/2014 11:26