There will be no load shedding this winter and next summer, Eskom CEO Brian Molefe said at a system status briefing in Cape Town on Thursday.
He said the power utility does not anticipate load shedding for the 2016/2017 financial year.
Molefe also said the trust Moody’s Investors Service (Moody’s) has placed in Eskom is not misplaced. The power utility managed to stave off a downgrade by the ratings agency, but was assigned a negative outlook.
Moody’s stated that Eskom’s outlook could be revised to stable if it continues to improve and stabilise its operational and financial performance.
“Last year, we had load shedding and this year we don’t have load shedding. The reason for this is because we have improved on the energy availability, as well as having added Medupi unit six to the grid. Now we have Ingula, which is synchronised to the grid.”
Molefe says a steady increase in South Africa’s available electricity supply means the lights will stay on throughout the winter months and into 2017.
He says this has been made possible by Eskom’s maintenance programme, and new units at Medupi and the Ingula pump storage scheme coming on-stream.
At this time last year, the country was in the grip of regular load-shedding.
The Eskom CEO says the national electricity grid is no longer under the same pressure.
“Now, we have more planned maintenance than unplanned maintenance, which means we have regained control of the system. The system is no longer controlling us; we are controlling it.”
He says Eskom experiences fewer unplanned breakdowns than it does planned outages in order to carry out maintenance.
Molefe is confidently predicting a winter free of load shedding and no disruptions to supply up until February next year.
Eskom has contracted coal supplies it requires for the next five years and will rather renew than decommission its ageing coal fleet, the firm’s chief executive said on Thursday.
State-owned Eskom is building new plants to improve power supplies as it ramps up electricity generation to plug a shortage that forced the utility to implement controlled blackouts early last year that dented economic growth.
More than 80 percent of the electricity in Africa’s most industrialised country comes from coal-fired power plants, some of which had been mothballed but were returned to service to help boost electricity supplies.
Last week, President Jacob Zuma said load shedding was a thing of the past.
He has attributed this to the good work from employees and decisions from government.
“This happened because we took very wise decisions when that problem was engulfing the country – and indeed the turnaround came. I promised them that I would be telling people all over the country ‘no more load shedding’.”
The Presidency said Eskom told Zuma that it’s managed to increase the ability of its power plants to produce electricity from a figure of 69.9percent last year, to over 76 percent by the end of April.
Zuma also told Eskom he was happy with the improvements that have been made.