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Eskom war room experts to meet at Union Buildings

The war room consists of energy experts tasked with finding a long term solution to the energy crisis.

FILE: The war room consists of energy experts tasked with finding a long term solution to the energy crisis. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - An advisory panel set up to turnaround the finances and performance of Eskom will meet with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa today, a day after the utility's status was downgraded by Standard & Poor's.

Ramaphosa heads up the war room meant to monitor Eskom's generation capacity and shortfalls, and today's meeting will set out government interventions.

This week the deputy president also said that there is light at the end of the tunnel for Eskom, and he's confident that a turnaround is possible.

A host of government ministers and technical experts will meet with the deputy president at the Union Buildings today.

The Eskom advisory panel also consists of energy experts tasked with finding a long term solution to the energy crisis.

They will meet with business people at the helm of companies that consume the most electricity in the country and those who have been severely affected by recent power cuts.

A proposal to allow private electricity produces onto the national grid is also expected to come into sharp focus.

S&P DOWNGRADES ESKOM

Standard & Poor's (S&P) on Thursday downgraded Eskom to BB+ following management suspensions.

The ratings agency said the negative outlook reflected that Eskom's operating performance has not yet stabilised due to rising costs.

It also said it was of the opinion that the material execution risk remained associated with government's support plan.

S&P's Mashiyane Mabunda explained, "We're not too sure if they're aware of how much is at stake in terms of financing needs for operations as well as the build projects for the Medupi and Kusile power stations, which they're far from finishing."

Energy expert Ted Blom said he was disappointed by the downgrade.

"There have been several warning signs over the past year that they weren't comfortable with the direction on which Eskom was going."

Peter Attard Montalto, Emerging Markets Economist at Nomura, said the level of support by government should have prevented a downgrade.

"Even given support by government, they're now so concerned by the level of the weakness of corporate governance and management at Eskom after the suspensions, so they have to downgrade."