Eskom will do whatever it can to avoid load-shedding, says COO Jan Oberholzer

The country's 164 days without load shedding have resulted in unexpected second-quarter GDP growth.

On Wednesday, at Eskom’s system status briefing that took place at Megawatt Park, COO Jan Oberholzer said that the company “will do whatever we can to avoid load-shedding, but it’s important to understand the risk remains”. 

According to Eskom acting CEO and chair Jabu Mabuza, the power utility has not implemented load-shedding for the past 164 days, despite its winter plan making provision for a maximum of 26 days of stage one load-shedding. 

Oberholzer said that the power system has benefited from low demand for most of winter due to the warmer temperatures and the poor economic climate. 

Mabuza said that in summer, however, consumer power consumption is high all day and does not just peak at certain times. The higher ambient temperature and wind directions have an effect on some of the power plants, especially Matimba.  

The system status briefing revealed that Eskom’s summer plan will balance the need for increased maintenance against the risk of unreliable plant performance.

Oberholzer also said that Eskom was cognisant of the enormous economic cost of load-shedding.

Many companies’ gross domestic product (GDP) shrunk quite a lot in the first quarter of the year due to load shedding and it is forecasted that Eskom’s aim to not implement load-shedding again will improve businesses productivity. 

Statistics South Africa earlier this week published the latest GDP data for the second quarter of 2019, showing surprising growth of 3.1 percent, which analysts attribute in part to the lack of load shedding – a strong indicator of how significant Eskom’s role in the country’s economic growth, or lack thereof, is.