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The South African Public Enterprises Minister, Lynne Brown, has requested public power supplier, Eskom to extend payment period to owing municipalities until end January.

On Tuesday, during the national power utility’s Quarterly System Status media briefing, the minister instructed the company to give municipalities until the end of this month to clear their outstanding arrears before switching off the lights.

Eskom welcomed the request but it also asked the municipalities to make use of the opportunity to make good on their owed amounts.

The company’s interim chief executive Matshela Koko said: “As a considerate executive authority, Minister Brown generously intervened to afford the owing municipalities more time to pay, while their lights remained uninterrupted.”

“I sincerely hope that the municipalities take full advantage of the opportunity to make payments and necessary arrangements towards the eradication of the overdue arrear amounts,” Koko added.

The power company stressed that failure to honour the outstanding debt will compel it to reactivate the electricity interruptions by issuing the schedule for the next round of interruptions of the affected municipalities, on 1 February 2017.

Debt recovery strategy

Minister Brown expressed her support to Eskom’s debt recovery strategy.

She said: “It is critical that Eskom recovers all its revenue to be able to honour obligations to its creditors in order to remain sustainable.”

Meanwhile, during the briefing, Eskom also declared that in the last nine months, it has connected 162,104 new customers to the grid, with 150,747 customers energised and already using electricity.

“We hope to electrify all households in South African in the next two years,” the company said.

The electricity supplier also noted that the power system remains stable due to its rigorous plant maintenance, which has seen an improvement in plant availability.

According to Eskom, the improvement in plant availability moved from 70.3% to 77.3% leading to 3,103MW being added to the national grid.

“The improvement in generation plant availability has re-enabled Eskom to dispatch the least cost stations ahead of the more expensive stations. Projections for the year end show that there will be a cost saving of ZAR238 million ($18 million),” the company said.

 

Featured image: Pro-Debt