Picture: Eskom's interim Group Chief Executive, Phakamani Hadebe. (Twitter).

CAPE TOWN - Power utility, Eskom's interim Group Chief Executive (GCE), Phakamani Hadebe today briefed the media on the status of the utility at Eskom's State of the System Address. 

The power utility said that Eskom has maintained operational performance for the year by improving energy availability by 78% for the year ending March 2018 compared to 77.3% in the previous year. 

“During the 2017/18 financial year, the following capacity has been added to the national electricity grid; 2 387MW of new generation capacity, 722.3km of new transmission lines, 2 510MVA of new substation transformer capacity exceeding targets”, said Hadebe. 

Eskom said that there are several highlights that the power utility achieved. This includes 215 519 new connections to the grid versus a target of 201 200, 2 387 MW new build capacity on the grid versus a 1 460 MW target for financial year of 2017/18. 

In addition to exceeding set targets, Hadebe assured the public that there will not be any load-shedding, unless an unusual event occurs. He said that load shedding this winter is unlikely as Eskom is implementing plans to manage a shift in plant performance and coal-stock levels. 

Just last week, the power utility reported that 7 power stations did not have sufficient coal supply. However, Hadebe said that this has changed. 

“We are happy to say we now have 6. And if we are lucky and it works according to projection that in one or two weeks that it will decrease to 5”, said Hadebe. 

Hadebe added that Eskom will address coal stock levels for stations below minimum stock days. 

Eskom said that while coal supply is a challenge, they are actively addressing the matter, in talks with Tegeta. 

“We are discussing with Tegeta.This to make sure that come winter, we have sufficient coal”.

Recovery plan

Eskom will be sourcing additional coal from suppliers. Hadebe said that despite the current dillemma, SA has one of the largest distribution lines globally and there is a reliable network. 

“I can tell you that we are safe”, said Hadebe. If we look at Eskoms performance outside of the challenges it faces, it is doing well, said the group executive. 

He added that those individuals who have contributed to the decline of the power utility should be separated from the company. Meanwhile, those who have been doing their job should continue to do so to ensure the upkeep of the utility. 

“We need to take painful, difficult decisions to do so”. 

Turnaround strategy

Eskom said that some of the key issues that need to be addressed include municipal debt, addressing the old sustainable model and concentrate on finalising the long-term strategy of Eskom. "We continue to focus efforts on increasing growth in demand of electricity and ensuring sustainable revenue collection. We ask customers to be vigilant of the risks of illegal electricity connections and to report cable and electricity theft", said Eskom. 

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- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE