‘There’s a plan to keep the lights on’

Minister Lynne Brown says SA is not in the midst of an energy crisis because government has a solution.

FILE: South Africa has faced weeks of power outages. Picture: Free Images.com

CAPE TOWN - Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown says the country is not in the midst of an energy crisis because government has a solution.

During his State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Thursday evening, President Jacob Zuma said Eskom will get a R23 billion cash injection.

It comes as South Africans have been forced to deal with intermittent load shedding since late last year.

Brown says she expects the cash by April.

"I think that the South African government and the president announced it on Thursday, that as soon as April starts, that's when we'll be expecting the money to come through."

She says there's a plan to keep the lights on.

"We're not in a crisis because we've got a solution. I think the president outlined that solution, that we have a short-term plan for Eskom to help it to create the kind of financial stability and deal with issues of maintenance."

Zuma, during his address, conceded that Eskom's power issues were a stumbling block for economic growth.

He said, "Overcoming the challenge is uppermost in our programme, we are doing everything we can to resolve the energy challenge."

Zuma said Eskom had been directed to switch from diesel to gas as it continued to grapple with the nation's energy woes, adding that the construction of three new power stations would add 10,000 megawatts to the national grid.

But University of Cape Town professor Trevor Gaunt says Zuma spoke of plans that were already in existence.

"There was nothing new, he spoke about all the plans which in fact were already plans in 2010."

Eskom told Eyewitness News that there is a 50 percent chance that it will have to implement load shedding today, but so far it expects no rolling blackouts for the weekend.

On Thursday, the utility managed to keep the lights on during the Sona.