Eskom’s power system “remains tight and vulnerable” going into the summer because of increased maintenance.
The state-owned utility is also experiencing rising cases of vandalism on its equipment, while illegal connections are increasing, chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer told journalists in Johannesburg on Wednesday. Eskom has managed to run for 164 straight days without implementing rotational power cuts, Oberholzer said.
While the company can’t guarantee there will be no outages, it’s confident scheduled blackouts can be avoided and is the firm’s main objective over the next seven summer months, acting CEO Jabu Mabuza said at the same briefing. Only one power plant has less coal than it is obliged to keep in reserve, he added.
Eskom, which supplies almost all of South Africa’s electricity, is buckling under R440-billion of debt and relies on government bailouts to remain solvent. The government’s plan to split the utility into transmission, generation and distribution businesses under a state holding company to make them easier to manage is facing resistance from powerful trade unions.
Company officials have met with labour, top customers and senior managers to align different stakeholders to the plan, Mabuza said. It is still waiting for the chief restructuring officer of the firm to provide solutions on Eskom capital cost structure, he said. — Reported by Paul Burkhardt, (c) 2019 Bloomberg LP