Eskom launches investigation into 'poor performance'

13 March 2015

Eskom has commissioned an independent inquiry to assess the company's poor performance and address its current challenges.

The South African utility's board of directors has suspended four of its senior executives, including CEO Tshediso Matona, and says that it will select external parties to carry out the inquiry by the end of March.

The inquiry will examine issues such as the poor performance of Eskom's generating plant, delays in bringing new plant on stream, the high costs of primary energy and cash flow challenges. It is expected to last for three months.

It was announced just days after Eskom said that the first unit of the 4788 MW Medupi coal-fired power plant had been synchronised to the grid.

Although that announcement marked a milestone in Eskom's capital expenditure programme, the Medupi project is around four years behind schedule.

Eskom's reserve margin has also been shrinking and the utility's efforts to keep the lights on have forced it to delay its maintenance programme and purchase expensive diesel fuel for its open cycle gas turbine power plants.

In January Matona said that the firm's strategy was now affecting plant reliability and that rolling blackouts would be a daily occurrence over the next few months.

Eskom has added over 6 GW of new generating capacity to its grid since 2004 and is planning to add a further 11 GW under its capacity expansion programme. The first 794 MW unit of the Medupi power plant project is due to start operating commercially in June 2015.

In early March Abengoa announced that its 100 MW concentrating solar power (CSP) plant, the first of its kind in South Africa, had started operating.

KaXu Solar One, located near Pofadder, Northern Cape Province, incorporates a storage system that enables production of 100 MW for 2.5 hours.

Sian Crampsie



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