Home South African Eskom hatches plan to outsource maintenance to keep plants afloat

Eskom hatches plan to outsource maintenance to keep plants afloat

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Eskom has announced that a generation unit each at the Majuba, Matimba and the Arnot power stations have returned to service, while a single unit at Tutuka Power Station has been shut down for repairs.

Eskom has announced that a generation unit each at the Majuba, Matimba and the Arnot power stations have returned to service, while a single unit at Tutuka Power Station has been shut down for repairs. Picture: Supplied.

AAS ESKOM on Thursday said it was stepping down to stage 2 load shedding, the power entity detailed a new plan to procure engineering and maintenance services from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the coming months to supplement its skills base at its ailing power stations.

The utility has announced that a generation unit each at the Majuba, Matimba and the Arnot power stations have returned to service, while a single unit at Tutuka Power Station has been shut down for repairs.

Two more units are set to return to service.

CEO Andre de Ruyter said yesterday that Eskom was canvassing labour and the government on the plan to deploy personnel from the OEMs for maintenance of its equipment in plants prone to malfunction, but that the “boots on the ground” would be to focus on equipment rather than operations.

“This is not a strategy that we’re going to implement across the board, but only at those power stations that are the significant contributors to unplanned capacity losses – those are the power stations where there is a need to bring in supplementary skills. If all goes well,  we should be able to see those boots on the ground … at some units, on some power stations in the next six to eight months,” De Ruyter said.

He said this would help in that Eskom’s personnel would focus on the operations of critical plants amongst the 79 coal fired power stations, 18 of which are currently forced off generation for planned and unplanned maintenance.

The plan though requires that Eskom obtains exemptions on some Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) regulations, especially in cases where the utility sourced help from a single supplier.

Eskom has long decried the extensive delays in processes of acquiring funding for spare parts or projects from the National Treasury which takes a minimum of 77 days.

It reported on Thursday that in the current financial year, which began at the beginning of April, it has already spent about R626 million on 48.5 million litres of diesel to run its Open Cycle Gas Turbines (OCGT) to keep the lights on which is a fraction of the about R7 billion spent over the last financial year.

De Ruyter reiterated that Eskom still sought over the longer term to retire about 11 000 Megawatts (MW) of its coal fired stations fleet by 2035 and would hand over build responsibility to the private sector for additional capacity.

“Eskom will no longer build. We will not be a part of it because there are large investments to be made. This is clear direction outlined in the roadmap of 2019. Unbundling is intended to allow South Africa to meet needs of the market,” he said, outlining that the process to unbundle the transmission function to the National Transmission Company of South Africa was at an advanced stage.

Eskom said it hoped to end load shedding before the weekend and that if systems helped out, it did not anticipate to implement it next week as more units come back on stream.

Most of the coal fleet, the oldest at about 42 years of age, are running out of their plant life.

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