Government steps in to keep the lights on

Eskom's board has been reshuffled and a five-point turnaround strategy has been devised.

Power lines running to a coal power station near Johannesburg. Picture: Kim Lubbrook/EPA.

JOHANNESBURG - Cabinet has taken drastic measures to resolve the country's energy crisis by reshuffling Eskom's board, setting a five-point turnaround strategy for the utility and leaning on the private sector for help.

Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe delivered a post-Cabinet briefing in Pretoria today where he emphasised government's concern about the disruptive effects of the recent power outages.

Radebe announced today that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will oversee the turnaround of not only Eskom, but two other ailing state-owned entities, namely South African Airways (SAA) and the South African Post Office.

A technical team will also ensure other interventions are implemented, such as co-generation opportunities.

The minister says government is implementing an energy mix of solar, wind, coal, gas and nuclear to help increase generating capacity.

Radebe says there are even immediate steps that can be taken.

"There are opportunities for the importation of gas and a coal independent programme will be launched by the end of January."

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown says she's satisfied that Eskom can cope financially until next year.

"Until the end of January 2015, Eskom has enough money to provide for the diesel."

Earlier this morning, the power utility said its system was relatively stable and there was no risk of load shedding today.

In the meantime South Africans have been urged to use electricity sparingly as government and Eskom try to alleviate ongoing load shedding.

CABINET SETS UP WAR ROOM

Cabinet has set up a war room to implement a five-point plan to tackle the country's energy crisi s and alleviate load shedding over the next few months.

Government will be leaning strongly on the private sector to help address the current shortage.

Tapping into waste energy, importing gas and implementing a coal independent power producer are all on the cards to help increase generating capacity.

While Eskom raised cash flow problems, government assured that the utility would continue buying diesel until the end of January.

Eskom will have to present a detailed plan this month on how it intends going forward in 2015.