Eskom ‘must make up for Medupi delay’


9 July 2013

Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba has instructed Eskom to work tirelessly to ensure that South Africa’s security of electricity supply is not compromised by the delay in the completion of the country’s new Medupi coal-fired power station.

Medupi, under construction in Limpopo province, was unlikely to deliver its first power to the country’s grid by the end of this year as planned, state power company Eskom said on Monday.

Medupi’s unit 6, the first of Medupi’s six 800 MW units, was due to deliver its first power to the grid by December 2013. A more realistic target for the first synchronisation of unit 6 to the grid was the second half of 2014, Eskom said.

Gigaba has instructed Eskom to provide him with mitigation strategies to ensure an uninterrupted electricity supply given these delays.

Eskom CEO Brian Dames said on Monday: “The power system will remain tight, as we have said, and we are working to put initiatives in place. We remain determined to keep the lights on, with the help of all South Africans. This is being done with support from government.”

Eskom has been engaging with contractors Hitachi and Alstom to resolve critical technical issues regarding the welding on the station’s boilers and the control and instrumentation systems for its units.

The government had “noted the interventions that the Eskom board and executive management have put in place to ensure that there is no further delay to the delivery of power to the grid,” the Department of Public Enterprises said in a follow-up statement on Monday.

“Following Minister Gigaba’s instruction, the Eskom board has established a sub-committee focusing on the mega projects which includes Medupi, Kusile, Ingula and 765 transmission lines. The board sub-committee is to closely monitor progress and to report to the minister regularly of any emerging risks that may require his attention and intervention.”

Following Gigaba’s concern about the dual role played by Eskom’s finance director as the group capital executive, Eskom’s board has also agreed to split the roles, appointing a new executive for group capital as a matter of urgency to ensure close monitoring of the build programme.

Meanwhile, the Department of Public Enterprises said tough action would be taken against those responsible for delaying the launch of the Medupi power station.

Gigaba’s spokesperson, Mayihlome Tshwete, said on Monday that contractors who have failed to deliver could be fined or forced to pay back some of the money.