JOHANNESBURG– The interim Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of South African power utility Eskom, Phakamani Hadebe, has told South Africans that the parastatal is committed to keeping the lights on this (Southern Hemisphere) winter, despite low stocks of coal at six of its power stations.

He told a media briefing here Thursday that coal stockpiles at all coal-fired power stations were at an average of 35 days’ usage, excluding the plants under construction — Medupi and Kusile. We have implemented plans to manage a shift in plant performance and coal stock levels, thus making load shedding unlikely this winter,” Hadebe added.

The resilience of the power system was evidenced in March this year following a number of plant breakdowns and a number of units on scheduled maintenance. We expect several units to be back on line before the end of this month and will further strengthen the power grid ahead of the winter season, Hadebe said.

Hadebe assured the country that plans are in place to improve coal stockpile levels at the six power stations which are currently below minimum stock level requirements. The coal recovery plan includes securing additional coal supplies and a redirection of coal from other power stations’ coal-yards to address the imbalance at the six power stations.

Eskom is also concluding an interim coal supply agreement with a coal-supply company, Tegeta, who business is currently under administration for supply of coal to the Hendrina power station, while the company rescue process takes place. In addition, Eskom is negotiating tenders for 100 million tons of coal required for the next five years.

The challenge of coal stock levels below the required target at some of our power stations is not ideal, especially as the organization prepares for the traditionally higher energy usage period in winter.” Hadebe said. We have, however, put measures in place to mitigate the situation and if the current state does not improve, we will meticulously reassess the situation, review our plans and take the necessary action.”