File picture: Dumisani Sibeko/Independent Media

Johannesburg - Buoyed by excess capacity, Eskom now wants big power users to use up more electricity in order to stimulate industrial growth.

Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe said yesterday that the utility had embarked on a programme to stimulate local electricity demand.

Molefe said Eskom had sufficient capacity and was in discussions with key industrial customers to understand their requirements. “We are targeting growth through specific industries that can have sustainable knock-on economic effects.

“Eskom is now delivering excess electricity capacity to help stimulate South Africa’s economic growth,” he said.

“Our five-year plan to the 2020/21 financial year aims to re-establish Eskom as a catalyst for economic growth, and not a constraint to the country’s future growth.”

Molefe’s upbeat mood is contrary to the load curtailment measures, which Eskom advocated a few years ago, as the utility, dealing with a constrained power system, asked big power users to reduce consumption in order to ease the strain on the system.

In the six months, Eskom electricity sales went up 1.2 percent, compared with the same period last year.

The utility said it had derived a strategy to address the decline in local sales volumes.

“The strategy addresses cross-border sales, local demand stimulation, public-private partnerships, corporate development and unregulated revenues,” Eskom said.

In the six months, Eskom increased revenue by 10.5 percent to R97.1 billion due to a 31.6 percent increase in electricity exports to Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.