March 13, 2010 / 12:02 PM / in 8 years

S.Africa's Eskom to fix power plant before W.Cup

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s electricity utility Eskom will shut down two units at Koeberg nuclear power station for maintenance to lower the risk of outages during the FIFA World Cup starting in June, company spokesman Tony Stott said on Saturday.

<p>Electricity pylons carry power from Cape Town's Koeberg nuclear power plant July 17, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings</p>

Eskom -- which provides 95 percent of the country’s power -- has suffered from a lack of investment in new capacity and ageing power stations as demand soared, putting supply under pressure.

“We’ve been trying to identify any risks that might cause our power stations to shutdown unexpectedly during the 2010 World Cup,” Stott said.

“Koeberg has identified a possible risk related to the system that takes in sea water to transfer heat from structures and components inside the reactor buildings.”

“Some of the rubber lining the steel pipes has come loose, we going to fix that because sea water is corrosive.”

The first unit at the Western Cape nuclear plant will be closed down next weekend for at 7 to 14 days with the second unit shut down in April and assured the maintenance would not affect power supply.

“We’ve checked to make sure that we’ve got enough capacity to supply electricity to the country ... We are confident that we will be able to meet the needs of electricity.”

“Although the programme of short duration shutdowns is not expected to result in a shortage of supply ... Eskom requests all consumers to be prudent, not to waste electricity,” Stott said in a statement emailed to the media.

South Africa experienced rolling power outages early in 2008 as the grid collapsed due to increased demand and power supply has been tight since then.

Eskom is seeking a $3.75 billion loan from the World Bank to help expand its power generation capacity to meet fast-growing demand in Africa’s biggest economy.

South Africa’s power regulator allowed Eskom to hike electricity prices by a nominal 24.8 percent this year, and by 25.8 percent and 25.9 percent respectively in the following two financial years.

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