Water, Sewage & Effluent January-February 2017 - Page 18

Eskom ’ s Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme power station of 1 332MW was initially supposed to have become fully operational in 2013 ; however , the project suffered numerous delays and costs are said to have spiralled to roughly R35-billion from an initial budget of R8.9-billion .

The escalating cost of the project was first reported by investigative journalism television programme Carte Blanche last year , and these claims were seemingly backed up by Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe , who confirmed in media reports that the project had been plagued by unexpected costs and delays .
“ So far we are doing everything possible to exceed the current amount that has been flaunted about . All we know at this stage is that the audited figures for the project is just over R26.8-billon ,” he said , adding that a number of lessons had been learnt .
However , outgoing Eskom CEO Brian Molefe has rubbished the Carte Blanche report , describing it as a “ hopelessly inaccurate story ” that failed to present the power utility ’ s side . However , Molefe did not provide any clarity on the alleged irregularities or correct the budget amount presented by the programme . Molefe subsequently resigned from Eskom towards the end of last year , amid the release of former public protector Thuli Madonsela ’ s report on state capture .
Meanwhile , commentators have pointed out that the cost of the Ingula delay is having a huge impact on South Africa ’ s economy .
The hydropower station is planned to function as a peaker plant , generating 1 332MW of electricity during peak periods . It would have reduced Eskom ’ s costly reliance on its diesel-powered open cycle gas turbines or , alternatively , reduced the need to revert to load-shedding had it been ready in 2012 / 13 . Eskom ’ s diesel bill in 2015 was said to have been about R1-billion per month and necessitated further tariff increases .
The final unit — Unit 3 — of the Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme was synchronised to the national grid late last year . Eskom revealed that Unit 3 was previously synchronised to the national grid in March 2016 and supported the grid until 6 April 2016 , when an ‘ electrical incident ’ occurred .