An Eskom coal-fired power station. Picture: EPA/KIM LUDBROOK

Cape Town - The Department of Energy and Eskom caused a stir in Parliament when they clashed on whether the government should regulate the funding for the maintenance of electricity infrastructure.
This came after Eskom’s executive Mongezi Ntsokolo told MPs on Tuesday that the power utility had not caucused with the department on the Approach to Distribution Asset Management programme that will deal with the funding of the maintenance.
Most of the infrastructure used by municipalities and Eskom is over 40 years old and it needs billions of rands to be replaced or refurbished.
Ntsokolo told the portfolio committee on energy that they did not need to go to the National Treasury to ask for money or guarantees for the maintenance of infrastructure.
This was in sharp contrast to the presentation by Thabang Audat of the Department of Energy that they need separate funding for the maintenance programme.
He said there was a huge under-investment in the maintenance of infrastructure.
He said in 2008 the maintenance backlog was R27 billion and in 2014 this had increased to R68bn.
The maintenance backlog for municipalities was R32bn and for Eskom R35.8bn.
“We need an industry-wide policy (on) how to maintain infrastructure. We need to establish a sustainable funding model for maintenance,” said Audat.
But Eskom said it was opposed to the idea and that it regretted that it did not discuss the idea with the department before their appearance in Parliament.
“We regret we did not caucus with the department on Adam (approach to distribution asset management programme). As Eskom we do not support a separate funding for maintenance. We do not believe we need the National Treasury to pump new money and give guarantees,” said Ntsokolo.
He added that they will take up the matter with the department.
But chairman of the committee Fikile Majola said the matter needed more discussion between all the parties.
“I think we should deal with this thing of Adam funding so that we can have a common approach,” said Majola.
ANC MP Risimati Mavunda said he was glad Eskom and the department did not caucus on the issue of the funding of maintenance of infrastructure because they could have misled Parliament and came up with a “sugarcoated” report.
Thandeka Gqada of the DA said Eskom must give more reasons why it did not support the department on the funding model for infrastructure maintenance.
Girlie Nobanda of the ANC also said the issue of maintenance was important but it was glaring that Eskom and the department held different positions.
The National Energy Regulator of South Africa warned that 6 percent of electricity revenue of municipalities should go to the maintenance of infrastructure.
Municipalities collectively owe Eskom R11bn over failure to pay the power utility.
Political Bureau