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Reduced likelihood of load shedding in winter, says Eskom’s De Ruyter

The Eskom boss said short-term maintenance and the procurement of additional capacity meant the 31 days of load shedding Eskom expected for the next quarter was now reduced to three.

FILE: Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter at a briefing on 31 January 2020. Picture: Bonga Dlulane/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Eskom CEO André de Ruyter on Wednesday said the chances of load shedding during winter had been significantly reduced.

De Ruyter told Parliament much would depend on whether the lockdown was lifted gradually or with a “big bang” approach.

But he said short-term maintenance and the procurement of additional capacity meant the 31 days of load shedding Eskom expected for the next quarter was now reduced to three.

De Ruyter was briefing Parliament’s public enterprises committees during a virtual meeting on Wednesday night.

The lockdown has seen a dramatic drop in demand for electricity. De Ruyter said that meant the power utility would lose about R2.5 billion in cash generated for April, with the full financial impact of lockdown yet to be assessed.

But the good news is Eskom was able to build up buffer capacity amounting to more than 10% of daily consumption.

“We believe that with these interventions that the likelihood of load shedding for the coming winter has been significantly reduced from our previous forecast,” De Ruyter said.

He said boards and managing directors were appointed for the generation, transmission, and distribution divisions that Eskom was being split into at no additional cost.

“So, we are on track to enable, in the fullness of time, the legal separation of the three divisions of Eskom in accordance with the roadmap for a restructured electricity industry as published by the Department of Public Enterprises,” he said.

However, De Ruyter said spreading Eskom’s massive R450 billion debt between each division was still being worked out. He said longer-term maintenance would be carried out over 12 to 18 months once the lockdown restrictions on the movement of people were eased.