Eskom suspends managers it blames for plant breakdowns

JOHANNESBURG, Sept 4- South Africa’s state run power utility Eskom has suspended the managers of two power stations it blames for exacerbating breakdowns leading to widespread power outages, it said on Friday. Eskom generates the majority of South Africa’s power, but for years has struggled to manage supply from ageing coal-fired power plants and has imposed…

JOHANNESBURG, Sept 4 (Reuters) – South Africa’s state run

power utility Eskom has suspended the managers of two power

stations it blames for exacerbating breakdowns leading to

widespread power outages, it said on Friday.

Eskom generates the majority of South Africa’s power, butfor years has struggled to manage supply from ageing coal-firedpower plants and has imposed intermittent blackouts.

After about four months of steady supply it imposed poweroutages in July for about a week.

Blackouts returned in August, worsening on Wednesday thisweek as the firm ramped up cuts from “stage 2” to “stage 4”,which requires up to 4,000 megawatts (MW) to be shed from thegrid. On Thursday it downgraded the outages to “stage3”.

Eskom blamed breakdowns at its power stations.

In a statement it said it had suspended the managers of theTutuka and Kendal power stations pending disciplinary inquiries.Further interventions are ongoing at the Kriel and Duvha powerstations, the firm said.

“Whilst it is true that the ageing fleet is plagued bylegacy issues of neglect and omitted maintenance and istherefore susceptible to unpredictable breakdowns, it is alsotrue that the situation is exacerbated by serious issues ofapathetic behaviour by some management staff,” said Eskom.

Eskom said there was 5,000 MW of capacity currently onplanned maintenance and 10,950 MW, about 12 units, lost tounplanned breakdowns. This has resulted in an energy demanddeficit of about 3,000 MW, aggravated by higher demand duringthis week’s cold front.(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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