Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa has defended the more than R9 billion spent on burning diesel in order to keep the lights on during load shedding.
Ramokgopa on Sunday said the expenditure was within budget and the intervention to keep load shedding low during winter would be anchored on the improvement of energy availability, working with industry and consumers to reduce electricity demand.
“We remain within budget. We are R600 million less than what we planned to spend,” he said.
“What we are sharing with you is nothing outside of what we had promised... We did say that at the time it is going to come at great cost to the fiscus," said Ramokgopa during his weekly media briefing.
Eskom’s head of generation, Bheki Nxumalo, said for the past quarter of this year they planned to spend R9.7bn.
“We are still currently at R9.2bn, if you calculate from May up to the end of June so we are still within the target,” Nxumalo said.
“The idea is really for us to improve on the energy availability factor because that will automatically reduce diesel burnt,” he said.
The Presidency’s Rudi Dicks initially said diesel burnt in May totalled R4.5bn.
“That is obviously high. As you recall May was a significantly difficult month for us as many units tripped and failed and the burnt rate was quite high,” he said.
Dicks insisted that they were well on budget for the expenses for diesels burnt until the end of July.
Ramokgopa said they were not surprised by the numbers.
Meanwhile, responding to a question on a letter that Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan wrote to Eskom on the approval sale of distribution business, Dicks explained that the cabinet adopted the decision to unbundle Eskom as part of a long-term process.
“The first element was to set up a subsidiary as part of that process of transmission. That process is nearing its completion,” he said, adding that the National Transmission Company of South Africa required operational licences.
One of the licences has already been given while two were pending.
“This is part of a long-term unbundling process, which includes a reform programme related to the Electricity Regulation Act that is before Parliament,” Dicks said.
“It is important to state that we are not selling anything. It is bundling to allow greater private participation in generation,” he said, adding that the National Transmission Company would be state-owned.
His sentiments were echoed by Eskom’s distribution group executive Monde Bala, saying the process of distribution unbundling started with the announcement of a roadmap in 2019.