Eskom CEO

Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter is currently in Washington DC – Image supplied

‘Significant changes’ coming, says Eskom CEO ahead of board meeting

‘We’re a bit like a cyclist running next to the bicycle with the chain off,’ says Andre de Ruyter, who is set on getting the embattled power utility back in the saddle.

Eskom CEO

Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter is currently in Washington DC – Image supplied

De Ruyter was due to start his new job heading up Eskom on 15 January. But the crisis at the institution over the festive season led to him already taking over the reins from 6 January.

Two weeks into his new tenure, De Ruyter have started sketching a strategy to overhaul the utility.

In an exclusive interview with Business Insider, he revealed that he’ll present a set of proposals at an important board meeting which is scheduled for the end of January, and if accepted, his plan to shake up Eskom will begin.

De Ruyter’s possible turn-around strategies

De Ruyter said the outcome of this board meeting “will give us the mandate to implement some significant changes to how we do things”.

These will include getting South Africa to use less electricity. One of the ways to foster this could be a subsidy for energy-efficient lightbulbs.

Another possible strategy is demand-side management (DSM). Speaking to Business Insider, De Ruyter explained how it might work.

“It’s not that expensive, actually, relative to the benefit that you get. We look at it on a cents per kilowatt-hour (c/kWh) basis, and if you look for example at something like rolling out compact fluorescent lights to replace incandescent bulbs, it’s a very low-cost intervention relative to the benefit that you get.”

Other options to explore, include rebates for citizens who instal energy saving solar geysers in their homes. De Ruyter told Business Insider that such subsidies are a possibility, but first extensive research and investigation needs to be conducted.

“We’ve got a whole range of ideas, but now we need to do costing and understand what gives us the biggest bang for our buck in the shortest time span. Those are the priorities that we will chase.”

Mandate to oversee Eskom split

In a mandate set by President Cyril Ramaphosa, De Ruyter must oversee government’s plan to split Eskom into three units — for generation, transmission and distribution.

It’s hoped that this separation will boost efficiency. While the challenge to achieve this seems like a mammoth one, De Ruyter believes it’s possible.

In an interview with Fin24, he shared his perspective on tackling the task ahead.

“What we need to do, and the metaphor I use with the Eskom team, is that we’re a bit like a cyclist running next to the bicycle with the chain off, and when asked why, we say, ‘well we’re too busy to put the chain back on’. So we do need to slow down, put the chain back on, so that we can get back into the saddle and start pedalling again.”