Eskom as­sures it will keep cuts to min­i­mum

The Star Late Edition - - Front Page - SIVIWE FEKETHA

ESKOM has moved to as­sure South Africans that there will be min­i­mal power cuts as house­holds brace for the win­ter sea­son.

Eskom’s lead­er­ship yes­ter­day gave an up­date on the op­er­a­tional sta­bil­ity and state of sys­tems at the power util­ity, which has faced fi­nan­cial woes over the years, and also spoke of its cur­rent restruc­tur­ing and un­bundling pro­gramme.

Chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Jan Ober­holzer said the past eight weeks of the lock­down had seen a great re­duc­tion in elec­tric­ity de­mand which the util­ity used to in­crease its ca­pac­ity.

Ober­holzer main­tained that Eskom had re­mark­ably re­duced the pro­jected stage 1 load shed­ding sched­ules. This, he said, was averted as a re­sult of the short­term main­te­nance con­ducted dur­ing the lock­down.

“Be­fore we had the lock­down, we had fore­cast 31 days of stage 1 load shed­ding, so what has helped us dur­ing the last eight weeks is do­ing the short-term main­te­nance. When we ran the model again, we are now fore­cast­ing three days of stage 1 load shed­ding over the win­ter pe­riod. How­ever, that is based on an 80% prob­a­bil­ity,” he said.

Ober­holzer, how­ever, in­di­cated that Eskom’s sys­tem re­mained un­pre­dictable and un­re­li­able due to ne­glect over the past years.

Group ex­ec­u­tive for gen­er­a­tion Bheki Nx­u­malo urged South Africans to use elec­tric­ity spar­ingly dur­ing peak hours, 5pm to 8pm.

Eskom chief ex­ec­u­tive An­dre de Ruyter said the power util­ity’s big­gest chal­lenge was its more than R450 bil­lion debt which it had to re­duce through the sale of non-core as­sets and in­creased rev­enue.

De Ruyter said the util­ity had also taken steps to slash­ing down its cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture in a bid to bol­ster its bal­ance sheet.

“We have taken a knife to our cost and our year-to-date costs are above tar­get, so cost dis­ci­pline is very much part of our ev­ery dis­cus­sion that we have as an ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee,” he said.

He added that about 184 se­nior ex­ec­u­tives had also left Eskom through a vol­un­tary sev­er­ance pro­gramme.

“That has been a suc­cess in re­duc­ing our wage bill and we think that this is a pos­i­tive and con­struc­tive way in which we can ad­dress head count in a way that does not cre­ate con­flict,” he said.

De­spite scep­ti­cism by unions and po­lit­i­cal par­ties, De Ruyter said restruc­tur­ing and un­bundling of Eskom was in full swing in­clud­ing the ap­point­ment of boards for its three new di­vi­sions.

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