R20bn 'financial relief' for Eskom

Eskom’s Khulu Phasiwe says the money is needed to maintain operational stability.

FILE: Eskom has nearly depleted its budget to buy diesel which costs around R1 bn per month. Picture: EPA.

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom says it expects government to make about R20 billion available in financial relief, following revelations that the power utility will run out of money by the middle of next month.

Eskom has admitted it has nearly depleted its budget to buy diesel which costs about R1 billion a month. It's been using diesel to keep the lights on as ageing infrastructure is serviced.

Eskom's Khulu Phasiwe says the R20 billion from government is needed to maintain operational stability.

"The R20 billion is for the general operations at Eskom. Remember we are building three new power stations and it will also assist in daily operations, like the acquisition of diesel and other things."

The power utility has confirmed that its budget is set to be depleted by the middle of February despite being expected to last until the end of the financial year in March.

Eskom has recently had to implement load shedding after one of its coal silos collapsed and problems with a number of its generators.

LOAD SHEDDING RISK THIS WEEK

The parastatal said it used the weekend to build up emergency reserves on the power grid in a bid to prevent load shedding this week.

Eskom implemented stage one load shedding last week after it said two generators went offline.

The power utility was forced to implement load shedding several times last year due to limited generating capacity, problems at some power stations and technical issues.

The utility has admitted that two thirds of its system is running on old equipment and outages are sometimes caused when the machines experience a shortage.

Phasiwe said the emergency reserves were nearly depleted last week.

ESKOM CAN'T COPE WITHOUT ADDITIONAL POWER STATIONS

Eskom said it doubled its maintenance over the festive season but its efforts have fallen short of ruling out load shedding this year.

Although it has since stabilised, rolling blackouts are expected in the near future.

Eskom managed to make it through the festive season without implementing load shedding, something many South Africans had feared.

The parastatal's Andrew Etzinger said the company's technical team spent most of December maintaining existing power stations.