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‘Failure to maintain electricity infrastructure could hamper power distribution’

The Department of Energy says municipal debt to Eskom is part of the reason there's no money to maintain infrastructure.

Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The Energy Department has warned the failure of Eskom and municipalities to maintain their electricity infrastructure could in future hamper power distribution.

The country's electricity distribution infrastructure is around 40 years old.

Department officials told Parliament's energy committee on Tuesday the large debt owing by municipalities to the utility is part of the reason there's no money to maintain infrastructure.

The Department of Energy's acting chief director Thabang Audat says Eskom’s excess electricity generation could be wasted if the country’s power infrastructure is not urgently maintained and refurbished.

A review in 2014 estimated the backlog at R68 billion.

Audat says the problem is getting worse.

“We’re sitting with a problem where maintenance is being ignored by the distribution operators

The City of Johannesburg is the biggest culprit failing to maintain its electricity distribution network, followed by a number of municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal.

The committee has heard municipalities’ inability to properly calculate electricity tariffs and the proliferation of small-scale generators is reducing available funding to do the necessary maintenance.