Will Eskom cope in winter?

Power utility Eskom says that, while the power system remains tight, it expects the unplanned outages to reduce heading into winter.

The group has come under scrutiny again after it implemented load-shedding on Thursday (6 March) following days of heavy rain which left its coal stocks wet. The company said at that the time that it is facing its most serious power emergency since 2008.

“The power system remains tight and is vulnerable to any changes going into winter, and will remain so for the next few years until the build programme is completed,” Eskom said.

It noted that the risk of emergency conditions developing remains with the company for the rest of March and into April.

“It remains important for all customers to maintain or achieve 10% electricity savings especially in the commercial, industrial and residential sectors. As mentioned during the media briefing last Friday, any small change on the system could have a significant impact.”

The group said that from a planning perspective, “the unplanned outages are expected to reduce as we go into winter. This is because less maintenance is done during winter and much more planned maintenance would have been done in summer in preparation for the winter months”.

Meanwhile, civil rights group AfriForum is concerned about the growing number of local municipalities in the country with outstanding payments on their Eskom accounts.

It noted that local municipalities owe the electricity supplier more than R2.3 billion. According to AfriForum the outstanding debt adds to the country’s electricity woes.

Mpumalanga’s municipal debt totals more than R800 million, while municipalities in the Free State owe more than R570 million.

Tiaan Esterhuizen, head of community structures at AfriForum, believes that municipalities that fail to pay their accounts, should have their licenses to supply electricity revoked.

“AfriForum believes that privatizing electricity management will eliminate the impact of inept municipalities, which will solve problems with electricity supply.”

“Privatizing electricity supply will also streamline debt collection and an accurate invoicing system,” Esterhuizen said.

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Will Eskom cope in winter?