Eskom CEO appeals for ‘patience & understanding’ as ‘massive power cuts’ loom

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Although there has been a reprieve for many businesses and households in recent months, Eskom still has to repair problematic power stations – a process that will take a long time.

Eskom’s Megawatt Park offices in Sunninghill. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN – Eskom CEO Andre De Ruyter on Thursday appealed for “patience and understanding” from South Africans after the power utility announced that massive intermittent power cuts would remain a reality until at least September 2021.

Although there has been a reprieve for many businesses and households in recent months, Eskom still has to repair problematic power stations – a process that will take a long time.

De Ruyter said, however, the repairs part of the Eskom restoration process was just one piece of the puzzle.

“Due to traditional generation capacity in South Africa, Eskom can only do so much with fixing and repairing the current plants we’ve got but we need new capacity to come onto the grid and therefore we are very pleased to see the procurement program launched by Minister Mantashe of Minerals and Energy, to add another 11.8 gigawatts to the grid. We do think there is more required.”

Although Eskom has not been implementing load shedding, it has resorted to what it now calls “load-reduction” – where sections of some areas have their power cut off to lighten the pressure on the national grid.

The utility released its latest state of the grid report on Thursday.

Meanwhile, as Eskom’s debt continues to head in the wrong direction, de Ruyter said a potential solution was being explored at Nedlac, while also looking at the benefits of green financing.

Nedlac has been seized with the Eskom question for months now – with business, government, labour and community – looking at different alternatives to rescue the country’s main source of energy.

De Ruyter said there wasn’t a single solution as they now found themselves having to borrow money to pay interest on their loans.

“When we’re also looking at the opportunity of accessing green financing, and this green financing is something that creates a very positive window of opportunity for us. As we decarbonise our economy and retire some of our old power stations which have reached the end of their lives, to cross to low or no carbon energy sources and in the process access low cost funding.”

Eskom’s debt is nearing the R500 billion mark and has been described as one of the biggest threats to the country’s economy.

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