Eskom questioned on R8bn price tag for diesel generators

Spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe says the money was mainly used to avoid or minimise load-shedding.

FILE: The power utility is asking for an additional eight percent tariff increase, over and above the eight percent already approved, in a bid to recover R22.8-billion. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) has questioned the use and maintenance of Eskom's diesel generators, which cost the power utility R8 billion in just one year.

The power utility is asking for an additional eight percent tariff increase, over and above the eight percent already approved, in a bid to recover R22.8 billion.

Public hearings into the application started in Cape Town today.

Nersa says it approved R10 billion for the open cycle gas turbines over a period of five years.

The regulator's chairperson Thembani Bukula said, "Their application in the multi-price determination only wanted R10 billion for the five years. So to spend R8 billion in the first year is something that we are struggling to understand."

Eskom has justified the over-expenditure, by saying it was to prevent load-shedding.

The utility says the R22.8 billion it wants to recoup was spent during the 2013/14 financial year.

Spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe says the money was mainly used to avoid or minimise load-shedding.

"The regulator will check if we've prudently used their money and if satisfied, we'll get the money back."

'ESKOM NEEDS TO BE ACCOUNTABLE'

The South African Local Government Association (Salga) says Eskom needs to be held accountable for its apparent lack of cost control.

Salga was one of the parties making representations at the first leg of public hearings.

Salga's Nhlanhla Ngidi says Nersa needs to consider the application carefully

"There is Nersa who is mandated to make these decision. All we can do as is hold Eskom accountable but Nersa needs to be very vigilant and needs to have sharp teeth in order to ensure that Eskom in the future is efficient enough."