Eskom assures it will keep cuts to minimum
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.