Eskom making “contingency plans” as Eloise tropical storm poses threat to coal supply

ESKOM, the South African power utility, said it had put contingency plans in place to prepare for excessive rainfall across Mpumalanga province which was expected to be hit by tropical storm Eloise as early as this weekend.

Mpumalanga province is where most of Eskom’s coal mines and some of its power stations are located, but it also has┬átransmission lines that import approximately 1,000MW of power into South Africa from Cahorra Bassa in Mozambique that might also be hit by the storm.

The main risk of heavy rainfall is damage to coal supplies which retards the coal burn. Rain of more than four days would pose a risk, the utility said.

“Several plans are in place in anticipation of the storm, and Eskom is also covering a wider area than what is predicted by the weather specialists to ensure we are not caught off guard,” the utility said.

Eskom said there were also some power stations in the Mpumalanga area that have been experiencing ash dam constraints. “Continuous heavy rainfall over these power stations could hamper operations and recovery efforts already underway,” it said.

“We have placed extra staff to attend to faults as quickly as humanly possible, and we ask consumers to exercise patience when they have outages as the safety of our staff is paramount,” it said.