Eskom has summarily suspended managers at Tutuka and Kendal power stations following the escalation of load shedding to stage 4 last week.
In a statement issued on Friday, Eskom said while it is true that the aging fleet is plagued by legacy issues of neglect and omitted maintenance, and is therefore susceptible to unpredictable breakdowns, it is also true that the situation is exacerbated by serious issues of “apathetic behaviour by some management staff”.
“Engagements have been held with other power station managers to ensure that the previous culture of weak consequence management will no longer be the norm and will no longer be tolerated at Eskom.
“The executive has, in the meantime, deployed three senior generation managers to the sites in question (Duvha, Kriel, Tutuka and Kendal power stations) to provide leadership and oversight in person,” Eskom said.
The utility said the board and executive are fully cognisant of the substantial strain that load shedding exerts on the wellbeing of citizens, on an already depressed economy, and are committed to attaining sustainability and reliability of the Eskom generation plant.
“The board and executive management have met twice in the past two days, with the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, to interrogate the systemic causes of load shedding and the measures being taken to repair breakdowns.
“In these meetings, it has been agreed that an urgent culture change and high-level competence enhancement across all 44 000 staff, which the Group Chief Executive (GCE) began upon his arrival, should be accelerated, promoted and strongly supported,” the utility said.
The utility said that there are 5 000MW of capacity currently on planned maintenance, and 10 950MW (12 units over the past seven days) on unplanned breakdowns.
“This has culminated in an approximately 3 000MW energy demand deficit, aggravated by very high demand during the cold front. The board is pleased that some units have since returned to service, but is aware that the level of failures is unacceptably high.”