Government will talk to investors about funding a new electricity generating company ‘outside’ of Eskom, says Mineral Resources and Energy minister Gwede Mantashe.
Mantashe said that this decision is being taken as a ‘security measure’ as Eskom struggles to provide power to the country.
“As Eskom is grappling with crises and problems, we must have a fail-safe option of getting energy,” he said at the African Mining Indaba in Cape Town on Monday (3 February).
“Particularly with the pressure to close a number of coal-generating power stations. We must start generating energy so that we go back to the comfortable days when we had a surplus (of energy).
“When we have that surplus of energy and competition in electricity generation, the price of electricity will be pushed down.”
Speaking on the sidelines of the conference, Mantashe told reporters that he had invited investors to either partner with the government or invest on their own in the creation of an alternative power generation entity.
“By this time next year we hope we can say we have a site for energy generation outside of Eskom. We want people to sell energy through transmission. We want to take the pressure off of Eskom,” said Mantashe.
In 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that Eskom will be split into three entities – generation, transmission and distribution.
Mantashe’s announcement comes after Eskom said it will extend load shedding through to Thursday (6 February) as it replenishes diesel supplies for its open-cycle gas turbines.
The power utility said that it will aim to avoid load shedding between 06h00 – 09h00 to minimise the impact the power cuts will have on traffic.
Presenting a system status briefing on Friday (31 January), Eskom chief executive officer Andre de Ruyter said that South Africans should expect more load shedding as the embattled power utility revises its current maintenance plans.
De Ruyter indicated that the blackouts would be more strictly planned as maintenance becomes more regular.
“Instead of deferring maintenance we intend to return to the cycle of maintaining our plants as per the original manufacturer’s guidelines,” he said in a presentation on Friday.
“This is not unusual, but I think in the past we neglected to perform scheduled maintenance as required, and those legacies are now clearly coming home and causing us to have unreliable equipment.
“This will result in an increased probability of load shedding over the medium-term (18 months) as we fix the system.”