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The likelihood of load shedding during winter has greatly reduced, according to Eskom CEO André de Ruyter.

De Ruyter told Parliament this week that short-term maintenance and additional generating capacity meant Eskom now expects three days of load shedding in the third quarter of 2020 instead of 31.

The splitting up of Eskom is on track, he said, and the boards and managing directors were appointed for the generation, transmission and distribution entities.

Eskom has not yet worked out how it will split its gigantic debt burden (R450 billion) between each division.

Longer-term maintenance will take place over 12 to 18 months and will commence once the lockdown eases, said De Ruyter.

On Monday, energy expert Ted Blom warned South Africans to brace for what could be the most extreme load shedding ever.

“The moment that the full demand comes onto the system, you will see fireworks second to none,” said Blom.

“I’m expecting transformers to blow up and boilers to malfunction. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see the worst load-shedding we have ever seen by the end of June. They have just continued with normal maintenance. They haven’t started on the ‘new philosophy’ maintenance.”

Refilwe Moloto interviewed Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha about the utility’s readiness to deal with rising electricity demand as South Africa re-opens the economy and enters colder months.

Moloto also asked Mantshantsha about Eskom’s plan to deal with Covid-19 infections at its power plans.

Earlier in the week, an employee at Koeberg Power Station tested positive for Covid-19.

Eskom has taken advantage of the unfortunate situation to do critical maintenance… placing us in a good position… We’re not forecasting any load shedding during this winter months. At worst, we might have load shedding by August… Demand for electricity will be low enough…

Sikonathi Mantshantsha, spokesperson - Eskom

If we continue with the lockdown, the revenue hit will much higher… There are things Eskom can do to cancel out some of the lost revenue such as increasing collections for non-paid electricity revenue – I’m talking about large customers such as municipalities that don’t pay… The big elephant in the room is the situation of Soweto…

Sikonathi Mantshantsha, spokesperson - Eskom

The employee at Koeberg is the seventh employee to contract the virus… As soon as someone is suspected of having the virus, we immediately send that person home to be in isolation. We make sure we trace every person who may have had contact… The work environment is decontaminated… We’ve got protective equipment for all our employees… Hand sanitisers and disinfectants placed strategically and easily available to everybody… We keep our teams strictly separated…

Sikonathi Mantshantsha, spokesperson - Eskom

Listen to the interview in the audio below.

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : 'Eskom took advantage of the unfortunate situation to do critical maintenance'

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