Christmas by candlelight? Eskom’s diesel budget seems to be in tatters

Henry

After the DA last week raised the possibility that the increased levels of load shedding may be in line with the decrease in the use of open-cycle gas turbines, Eskom confirmed that it had exhausted its diesel budget.

Dr. Mimmy Gondwe, DA MP and spokesperson on public enterprises, says that as Eskom’s aging coal-fired power stations struggle to generate enough power to meet demand, the decline in the use of open-cycle gas turbines means that South Africans are still spending the December holidays will experience increased levels of load shedding.

“Reports indicate that Eskom only has R3.6 billion left for diesel to power its open-cycle gas turbines. However, this amount is only enough to keep the open-cycle gas turbines running for a month.

“Eskom’s attempt to reduce the use of open-cycle gas turbines, as is evident from the progressive decrease from 14 open-cycle gas turbines on November 22 to none on November 29, is already too late,” says Gondwe.

“The risk for permanent phase 6 load shedding in the next few months, until the end of Eskom’s financial year in March 2024, is now very high.”

She says that with the treasury having confirmed for a long time now that it will not provide any additional financing to Eskom for the acquisition of diesel, the DA immediately calls on Eskom to provide clarity on how it will finance the acquisition of additional diesel to powering its open-cycle gas turbines until the end of the financial year.

“It is our considered opinion that Eskom will have to dig deep into its coffers and prioritize spending from its current budget to supplement its already depleted diesel supply.

“Eskom could not solve the load-shedding crisis and as such it should bear the burden of reducing its impact – from its own balance sheet -,” says Gondwe.

She says it is simply unacceptable that cabinet ministers and Eskom officials misled South Africans over the past few months into thinking the country had reached a load-shedding tipping point when they knew full well that Eskom was burning diesel in large and abundant quantities .

“The burning of diesel was never intended to be a long-term solution to end the load shedding crisis.

“If South Africans have to celebrate the festive season and possibly the new year in the dark and amid increased levels of load shedding, they deserve the truth about why this is really happening.”