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Eskom unbundling proceeding and loadshedding chances slim for weekend

Eskom Group CEO Andre de Ruyter confirmed the SEO is on track to unbundle into three separate entities by the end of 2021.

Speaking at the last of the daily press briefings on loadshedding for this past week, de Ruyter said the outlook for the weekend was looking good. The prognosis for next week is also good as a number of units would be coming back online as planned. Still, the utility appeals to the public to use electricity sparingly. “It does make a difference,” said de Ruyter.

Eskom is currently making up a slight shortfall between demand and capacity by using the nine open cycle gas turbines at Ankerlig Power Station in the Western Cape and the two at independent power producer Avon Power Station in KwaZulu Natal.

These diesel-powered stations are burning through about 17,000 litres of fuel a minute. “They’re not intended to run at high load factors… but due to generation constraints they’re operating to make up for the shortfall in generation,” explained de Ruyter.

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At this moment the prognosis of loadshedding for next week (commencing 15 November) is looking good as a number of units should come back online as planned.

Answering a question about Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana’s suggestion that Eskom could sell coal power stations to address its debt burden, de Ruyter pointed out this was a decision outside of the purview of the electricity parastatal and up to the National Treasury.

Eskom unbundling proceeding as planned

Speaking about the unbundling of Eskom into generation, distribution and transmission companies he said the SOE was on target. A fully functional separate transmission company has been established as a legal entity. Pro tem directors have been appointed to the National Transmission Company of South Africa and they have put in place measures to start trading electricity.

“The outstanding issues related to the granting of the transmission licence to the new entity. The licencing has to be granted by NERSA. It is currently allocated to Eskom Holdings SOC. So, there is a regulatory process for awarding the licence,” explained de Ruyter.

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An amendment to the Electricity Regulation Act is already necessary and this has been drafted and submitted to Cabinet.

Until such time as the licence is issued and the Electricity Regulation Act is amended, Eskom is looking at options for how to keep the lights on. Considering the new National Transmission Company of South Africa will be wholly owned by Eskom Holdings SOC they can implement the practical elements of legal separation and are taking legal advice on the matter.

De Ruyter said Eskom have found the daily briefing sessions during loadshedding to be useful and they would implement the media sessions again should it become necessary. ESI

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Theresa Smith
Theresa Smith is a Content Specialist for ESI Africa.