Winter strategy, power plants and debt: key Eskom takeouts

Eskom plans to complete the building of Medupi and Kusile power stations.
Eskom plans to complete the building of Medupi and Kusile power stations.
Image: Business Times

Winter, power plants and debt dominated Eskom's briefing into the state of the power utility during a press conference held by public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan on Wednesday. 

The briefing was part of promised updates by Gordhan about load-shedding affecting the country. This after SA experienced stage 4 load-shedding in March, plunging the country into darkness. 

Here are key issues that were addressed.

Winter strategy 

Gordhan said if Eskom's power supply strategy went according to plan, load-shedding over winter would be limited. He explained that if load-shedding did occur, it would be stage 1 only, and for a maximum of 26 days.

Eskom's plan to make it through winter includes executing proper maintenance to avoid plant breakdowns.

The power utility also plans to keep unplanned outages at less than 9,500MW and planned outages at between 3,000MW and 5,000MW. 

To keep unplanned outages at less than 9,500MW, Eskom said it would increase supply at its power plants [Medupi, Kusile, Kriel, Matla] and increase diesel supply. 

Kusile and Medupi 

Eskom chairperson Jabu Mabuza said Eskom planned to complete the building of Medupi and Kusile power stations.

The board said Medupi was 94% done and Kusile is 89%-91% complete. It will cost the power utility about R18bn to finish both projects.

Eskom debt 

Mabuza said Eskom needed R250bn to make up for the possible shortfall, but he could not detail how the money would be collected.

Business Day reported on Wednesday that Eskom anticipates a shortfall of R250bn over the next three years.

Gordhan said the government was looking at "additional mechanisms" to deal with Eskom debt, which is about R420bn. 

The Eskom board has tried different measures to get Eskom out of its financial rut. In 2018, Eskom said it needed a R100bn bailout from the government and wanted to hike electricity tariffs by about 17%. 

The government announced in February that R23bn a year would be allocated to Eskom over the next three years.

National energy regulator Nersa approved an Eskom tariff increase of only 9.4% in 2019. 

The Brics New Development Bank has granted Eskom a loan of R11.2bn,  Business Day reported last week. 

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