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Eskom warned against govt bailout

The utility says it won't have money by mid-February to continue buying diesel to operate gas turbines.

Power. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN
eskom,Load shedding,eskom load shedding,Eskom power cuts,Eskom power issues,Power Utility Eskom,Eskom maintenance,Eskom Majuba Power Station
Local Business

JOHANNESBURG - Energy experts and economists have warned a government bailout will not help Eskom in the long-term to deal with the electricity crisis.

The utility is looking for government funding, saying it won't have money by mid-February to continue buying diesel to operate its open gas turbines.

These turbines have been used extensively over the past few months to deal with the electricity demand after a coal silo collapse at the Majuba Power Station reduced supply by about 1,800 megawatts.

Stage one load shedding was implemented on Friday for the first time this year when generators suddenly broke down, forcing the power giant to cut electricity without notice.

The parastatal said it's expecting about R20 billion from government to help it continue buying diesel.

Energy expert Chris Yelland says Eskom needs to look at the fundamental business problems.

“Throwing money at this is not the solution. It will become like a black hole if you don’t address the underlying issues it simply means that in a period of time they will need more money.”

Economist Iraj Abedian says a coherent national energy policy is needed.

“The government has failed to come up with a credible and sustainable national energy policy and therefore it has placed extraordinary pressures on Eskom.”

On Monday, Eskom's financial woes remained firmly in the spotlight but there's no indication as to how or when government will assist.

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene reportedly read the riot act to Eskom bosses, saying they must sort out their problems which are affecting the economy.

It is understood government will “play its part” but Nene warns that day-to-day operations are the utility's responsibility.

Eskom spokesperson Andrew Etzinger says they are waiting for feedback from government on how they'll buy diesel when funds run out.

“The critical issues are being dealt with and at the right time, government will make an announcement.”

Eskom says while the power grid is stable, load shedding remains a risk this week.

It warned South Africans must be prepared for load shedding at all times.

The company, which supplies 95 percent of South Africa’s power supply, said the grid can change at any time.

Eskom has also been battling with ageing infrastructure and limited generating capacity.

(Edited by Gadeeja Abbas)

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