File picture: Antoine de Ras/Independent Media
Johannesburg – Eskom on Tuesday reported an operational surplus energy capacity averaging 5 600MW at peak this financial year, an achievement the power utility said could make the country meet any increase in demand until 2021.

During the quarterly system status briefing on Tuesday at its headquarters in Megawatt Park, Johannesburg, the power utility said its turnaround strategy was beginning to bear fruit. Eskom has not implemented load shedding for 17 months, and said its turnaround strategy was looking at long-term and sustainable energy solutions.

Eskom interim chief executive, Matshela Koko said the availability of operational surplus capacity of 5 600MW during peak demand was "a game changer". Koko said both domestic and export sales must be further increased as a priority.

"We are ensuring that power supply remains unconstrained through our maintenance programme. Eskom power system has progressed to a position of surplus capacity which will positively impact the SA economy," Koko said.

"The availability of excess capacity allows Eskom to meet demand more cheaply than through the purchases of renewable energy. Eskom will continue to focus efforts on increasing growth in demand in electricity and ensuring sustainable revenue collection."

Eskom also committed to allowing municipalities until January 31 to clear arrears. Over the 2016 financial year, municipal debt increased to R10.2 billion at the end of November, with the Free State, Mpumalanga and North West contributing the most at R7.8 billion combined.

Eskom said no debt shall be written off, as in contravention of the law, and failure to do so would result in scheduled power cuts in defaulting municipalities.

Eskom chairperson Baldwin Ngubane praised Koko and his team for turning around the company and delivering a solid financial and operational performance.

"I assure you that this performance is not a once-off achievement; but it is a journey of sustainable progress that will achieve even greater milestones in the coming future," Ngubane said.

"We now have a healthy reserve margin and adequate generation capacity to meet the current demand. In addition, the build programme continues to add additional capacity to the grid."

African News Agency