Eskom has no money, no diesel, which is why you have no lights
A myriad of problems such as breakdowns, fires, and the electricity utility's huge uncollected municipal debts hamper power supply
Photo for illustration: iStock
Photo for illustration: iStock
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Just as the country was moved to level 1 lockdown for Covid by President Cyril Ramaphosa, Eskom moved SA to level 2 load shedding until Thursday.
Breakdowns of three generators, a lack of diesel to run the rest, conveyer belt failures and boiler tube leaks all contributed to the rolling blackouts. And a fire at the Kendal power station took out three units, one of which will only be back next month.
Since 2015, rumour has it each time the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) turns down a request by Eskom for more funds, load shedding happens. Nersa recently rejected “Eskom’s Fifth Multi-Year Price Determination (MYPD5) revenue application for the financial years 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25” at the end of September.
Eskom said this “created a regulatory vacuum for the electricity supply industry in South Africa” and it was weighing its options on how to proceed.
And, of course, when the power doesn’t return as scheduled, residents of Johannesburg get furious. Hundreds took to social media yesterday, thanks to Eskom losing 20 037MW of power on Friday with 14 760MW being unplanned breakdowns and the rest for planned maintenance.
Energy expert Clyde Mallinson said a multi-solving approach was needed to turn Eskom around and stop load shedding.
“With Eskom in financial trouble and many municipalities not paying them, the solution involves multi-solving. We have to look at all the problems collectively,” Mallinson said.
Many municipalities received payment from customers but failed to pay the money to Eskom, which was owed more than R35 billion, he said.
“How do we solve load shedding, while solving non-payment by municipalities and how do we make electricity green for those who want to export it to Europe?” he asked.
Many people in low and medium-income can’t afford to pay for electricity. “The question is a sensitive one because people cannot afford to pay for it, let alone worry where it comes from,” he said.
Isaac Mangena, spokesperson for City Power, said they were aware of several areas that are out and failed to restore after load shedding over the weekend.
“Loadshedding stretches our resources and strains our network. Eskom has beefed up resources including an operator to ensure we deal with the backlog.”
Mangena urged users to switch off guzzlers like geysers, pool pumps and stoves to ensure there were no explosions during the switch-on after load shedding.
Democratic Alliance (DA) mayoral candidate for Johannesburg Mpho Phalatse said the party supported local government taking charge of electricity supply and ending the failed Eskom model.
“This includes stable electricity provision to areas such as Soweto, Ivory Park, and Sandton.”
Phalatse said the DA wouldn’t support any proposal where Sandton or any other Johannesburg residents were subjected to higher electricity rates to bailout Eskom’s “mess”, such as debt and ageing infrastructure.
“ANC corruption has destroyed the city’s finances and created a backlog of basic services while resulting in many unnecessary job losses,” Phalatse claimed. The party actively drives the procurement of electricity by municipalities from a diverse pool of independent power producers, as seen in the Western Cape.
“The competition among power producers can drive down the costs of electricity for residents and create economic growth and job creation,” she said.
Nersa has asked Eskom to submit a one-year interim application for the 2022/23 financial year, “preferably based on the principles of a new approach that is under consideration”.
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