Embattled power utility Eskom says that it needs an estimated R187 billion to comply fully with existing legislation curbing harmful emissions, Reuters reports.
The new minimum emissions standards for air quality laws came into effect in 2015, but several companies – including Eskom – were granted a five-year reprieve by the government until 2020 to meet air emission standards.
Presenting in parliament on Wednesday (20 November), the Department of Public Enterprises said that project delays and cost overruns at Medupi and Kusile, two mega-coal plants currently being built by Eskom, largely contributed to Eskom’s debt ballooning to R440 billion.
“Given the current financial constraints, at this stage Medupi will be prioritised to be retrofitted with Flue-Gas Desulphurisation (FGD technology),” the department said.
It added that any new coal plants would need to have emission-reducing technology, such as FGD.
Eskom will receive R138 billion in bailouts through March 2022, or R10 billion more than previously allocated, according to the medium-term budget policy statement released by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni in October.
The minister warned that extra support may be needed if plans to turn the loss-making utility around are delayed.
Eskom has been dogged by years of mismanagement and massive cost overruns at two new plants.
The company isn’t generating enough income to cover interest payments on its R450 billion of debt and is struggling to produce enough power to meet demand. The utility supplies about 95% of the nation’s electricity and the government has said it’s too big and important to fail.