Eskom technical review team to deliver preliminary report in four weeks

The Eskom technical review team, appointed by the Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and the Eskom board on March 4, will produce a preliminary report within four weeks, Cabinet said in a statement released on the same day, March 14, that Eskom resumed load-shedding.

Cabinet said the team started its work during the week of its most recent meeting, which was held on March 13.

The 11-member team is comprised of academics, engineers and power systems professionals and is being coordinated by Dr Tsakani Mthombeni and Ian Morrison.

It has been asked to assess: plant unavailability due to scheduled maintenance; plant unavailability due to unplanned outages and unscheduled maintenance; operator errors resulting in power plants tripping and shutting down; and technical and operator-associated inefficiencies resulting in lower than optimum electricity output from the power station units.

Cabinet also received a report from Deputy President David Mabuza on the work of the joint special Cabinet committee on Eskom, established in response to recent electricity supply disruptions and its negative impact on the economy.

The committee, which includes the Ministers of Public Enterprises, Energy, Transport, Finance, Police and State Security, will coordinate government’s efforts to bring financial, operational and structural sustainability to the embattled State-owned utility.

In February, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced that government would inject R23-billion a year for up to ten years into the utility, which currently has debt of more than R420-billion and is expected to report a loss of R20-billion for the 2018/19 financial year.

Eskom also had access to a R350-billion government guarantee, which had been extended to 2023.

Mabuza told lawmakers earlier in the week that the technical review team’s assessment would guide specific interventions at a power-station level to ensure that power supply disruptions are stabilised.

“Ultimately, Eskom must implement programmes that will improve the culture of accountability, productivity and efficiency at the utility. Where appropriate, it will have to dispose of non-core assets and increase its efficiencies thereby alleviating its current liquidity challenges in the short-term,” Mabuza said.

Meanwhile, Cabinet noted “good progress” made by Eskom to increase coal stocks across its power stations, but said further attention had to be given to the coal supply chain.

“Cabinet, however, remains concerned about the performance of the Medupi and Kusile power stations and has mandated the Minister of Public Enterprises to provide a comprehensive recovery plan based on a reassessment of the key drivers of the cost and time overruns for this new build project.”