No winter power cuts, vows Eskom
Share this article:
Cape Town - There might finally be light at the end of the country’s dark load shedding tunnel, with a new promise from Eskom that there will be no power cuts this winter.
This is an about turn from Eskom’s chief executive Brian Molefe, who this month said the lower than expected tariff increase from the National Energy Regulator (Nersa) would again result in load shedding.
Molefe told Parliament’s public enterprises committee yesterday that the power utility had had a rethink at a retreat. Under its new leadership, the company had turned itself around by conducting more effective maintenance on its facilities and having contingency plans in place to avoid load shedding.
“Our prognosis for the rest of the summer going into winter is that there will be no load shedding and we will continue with a rigorous programme of planned maintenance.”
As of yesterday, the country had experienced 217 days without load shedding. Unplanned breakdowns of its facilities had decreased by 10 percent between November and February, the company’s executive said.
Eskom has been granted a 9.4 percent tariff increase from Nersa, which would translate into revenue of about R11.6 billion – half of what it had asked for.
Molefe said the reduction had “punched a bigger hole in the balance sheet”, but Eskom would find ways to mitigate the effects.
“We are confident we will be able to survive without load shedding or declaring Eskom bankrupt,’’ he said.
A reduction in the use of diesel to operate its gas turbines would also cut costs, he added. The use of gas turbines had already been reduced by 80 percent since last October, resulting in a 53 percent reduction in its diesel bill.
Eskom’s chief financial officer Anoj Singh said there were no concerns about the company’s liquidity.
However, municipal debt was still concerning. The country’s 281 municipalities owe Eskom about R6bn. Partial disconnections were already in effect in the Eastern Cape and the Northern Cape.
The DA’s Natasha Mazzone said it was “criminal’’ that municipalities were using money intended to pay its electricity debts for other things.
“Too often we are protecting municipalities when it’s people who have actually paid are the ones suffering,’’ she said.
Molefe said that Eskom wanted to install prepaid electricity meters in households so that they could then collect the revenue on behalf of municipalities.