In a recent interview with the Sunday Times, Tutuka Power Stations’ new general manager, Bruce Moyo, shared encouraging updates on the plant’s performance, signaling a shift from its previous status as the worst-performing station in the fleet.

When Moyo’s team assumed control earlier this year, the energy availability factor (EAF) stood at a mere 6%, reflecting a staggering level of neglect. However, under new management, the EAF has seen improvement, with four units operating at one point, though currently, only two are operational.

Despite ongoing setbacks, the workforce at Tutuka is reportedly more motivated than ever, a stark contrast to the atmosphere just a year ago. Moyo expressed optimism about the plant’s future, highlighting the positive changes his team has implemented.

Earlier this year, Tutuka gained notoriety when former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter addressed the Standing Committee on Public Accounts about the station’s challenges. De Ruyter cited criminality in the Standerton, Mpumalanga area and revealed security concerns for station personnel.

Moyo noted a significant improvement in relations, emphasizing that he doesn’t wear a bulletproof vest to work, unlike his predecessor. However, he keeps his family’s location confidential, underscoring persistent security worries at the station.

Tutuka was among the six identified “problem” stations this year, alongside Duva, Mejuba, Kusile, Matla, and Kendal. Moyo’s prior experience with Duva and Kendal, where recovery efforts were successful, provides hope for Tutuka’s turnaround.

Eskom has been dedicated to recovery efforts in 2023, witnessing success at Kusile, where downed units were brought back online, contributing to an overall improvement in the group’s EAF. The energy availability factor is crucial in determining a power station’s performance, with a target of 70% needed to eliminate load-shedding and ensure electricity security in South Africa.

Despite these positive developments, Eskom’s goal of achieving a 65% EAF by March 2024 remains a significant challenge. The group has yet to consistently reach the 60% EAF target set for March 2023, with October being the closest the company came to achieving this milestone, albeit briefly.

Independent energy analyst Pieter Jordaan’s latest data reveals that Eskom continues to struggle, with the EAF hovering around 55%. The journey to recovery for Tutuka Power Stations and Eskom as a whole remains ongoing, highlighting the complex nature of restoring efficiency to South Africa’s power grid.