DA calls for handover of Kusile and Medupi operations to original equipment manufacturers

Issued by Samantha Graham-Maré MP – DA Shadow Minister of Electricity
12 Mar 2024 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Samantha Graham-Maré MP

The DA rejects outright claims made by Eskom executives, after an evaluation of poor performance at the country’s 14 coal-fired power stations, that the findings made by experts in the VGBE/Treasury report are wrong and inaccurate.

If anything, the blame for plant dysfunctionality lies with Eskom itself after it sat idly by while the performance of coal power stations rapidly deteriorated, loadshedding progressively became worse and the Energy Availability Factor (EAF) continued with its downward spiral.

The DA is now calling on the Minister of Electricity, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, to initiate a process to hand over operations for the Kusile and Medupi power stations to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM). This follows findings made in the VGBE/Treasury report that Kusile’s Unit 4, which is operated by the OEM, is the power station’s best-performing unit, with an Energy Availability Factor (EAF) of 90%.

The country’s economy and people’s livelihoods cannot be held to ransom – through incessant loadshedding, by what is clearly Eskom’s inability to improve the performance of units under its management at both Kusile and Medupi.

The VGBE/Treasury report warns that at any given time, the country is on the verge of loadshedding at Stage 13 unless major overhauls are done at key power plants. These overhauls are not quick fixes that can be implemented on an ad hoc basis as units at power stations go down. They require planning, technical expertise, major financial injections and long-term planned maintenance.

A number of the issues faced include original design flaws that need to be re-engineered in our new power stations, staff morale and a lack of capacity at power station management level, unnecessary bureaucracy in the refurbishment and repairs to plants and addressing the operation and management deficits that have led to severe damage to infrastructure.

Instead of trying to shift blame for their own failures, Eskom should be taking practical steps to implement the recommendations provided in the report to improve performance of its coal fired power stations. In fact, both Eskom and the Minister appear to have forgotten that the implementation of the report’s recommendations forms part of the Eskom Debt Relief Bill and are a requirement, not a suggestion.

And while Eskom and the ANC are busy trying to ‘protect their turf’, dismissive of the damage that loadshedding is causing to the economy, a DA-led government will ensure that residents are incentivized to continue to install their own solar systems with feed-in meters in order to become, not only energy self-reliant but also to become prosumers in the energy environment.

The Democratic Alliance in the Western Cape is already demonstrating that moving away from a centralised, monopolistic approach to energy supply can alleviate the burden of loadshedding while building a thriving energy sector where we govern. The DA model of an open energy sector with a competitive electricity market needs to be rolled out nationwide so that we can rescue South Africa from the crippling effects of loadshedding.