This has been a challenging week for Eskom. Things turned for the worst when, on Monday, the power utility was forced to implement stage four load shedding due to a severe strain on the grid.
Although the country experienced load shedding for the entire week, things seem to have improved. On Friday, the power utility revealed that it was highly unlikely that there would be a need to schedule power cuts.
“We ran out of diesel simply because we’d been burning so much, about R100 million’s worth of diesel a day to keep the light on to the extent that we could. So, we replenished the diesel, which I’m hoping we don’t burn too much of today because we need to save money as well.”
This sentiment was echoed for this weekend too, after power generation processes were improved in the week.
Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan was vocal, this week, about the plight Eskom faces.
A humongous debt backlog matched with ill-performing power generation units and a history of maladministration has left Eskom on life support.
Without a bailout, the power utility would be rendered insolvent by April, Gordhan warned.
It seems more than likely that this will be the case, as President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed this in his response to the State of the Nation Address on Thursday.
We will wait to hear from Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, just how bad the situation is financially and how much backing with be allocated to Eskom in his upcoming budget speech.
Barring that things don’t explode into violence between the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and Eskom, we should see the funding allocated based on the new, unbundled structure of the power utility.
The acting head of generation at Eskom, Andrew Etzinger, admitted that although it has been a tough week, the power utility has made strides in improving output operations.
Shockingly, however, Etzinger revealed that Eskom spent an estimated R100-million on diesel to produce enough power to see the country through a single day.
“We ran out of diesel simply because we’d been burning so much, about R100-million’s worth of diesel a day to keep the light on to the extent that we could. So, we replenished the diesel, which I’m hoping we don’t burn too much of today because we need to save money as well,” Etzinger said.
The welcomed news of little to no chance of load shedding has to be taken tentatively and with caution too, warned Eskom.
“Although Eskom has rain readiness plans in place [to] manage the risk of wet coal, the recent heavy rains could also impact coal handling and feeding to the boilers with a potential impact on generation production.
“Eskom will keep customers informed should there be any changes that could increase the risk of load shedding,” the power utility said in a statement.