Cape Town- Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said ending load shedding would require commissioning additional electricity to the grid by up to 6 000 megawatts and improving Eskom's coal fleet.
Gordhan also said it was important that all citizens paid electricity, including the “delinquent” municipalities that owe Eskom R47 billion.
He was responding to written parliamentary questions from EFF MP Omphile Maotwe when she asked the date by when Eskom would have put the necessary measures to “completely end” load shedding and also asked for details of the plan.
In his written response, Gordhan said the government was cognisant of the need to end load shedding as soon as possible.
“More importantly, we must ensure that South Africa has energy security, enough electricity to cater for growth in economy, the decommissioning of plants in line with climate change commitments, and production inadequacies in the current Eskom fleet.
“These matters are being dealt with great urgency,” he said.
The minister also said Eskom was cognisant of the negative impact of load shedding on the country’s economy and the inconvenience and hardship it caused.
“However, load shedding is a last resort lever to protect the system from blackout, which is a total loss of the electricity network,” he said.
Gordhan said the Eskom’s generation fleet was unreliable and unpredictable because its plants have been run for nearly two decades at exceptionally high utilisation factors.
“There has also been insufficient investment in maintenance because of inadequate capacity and years of tariffs that were not reflective of prudent and efficient costs.
“Together with inadequate capacity on the system, this unreliability and unpredictability have led to load shedding, and it means that the risk of load shedding remains if there are more breakdowns than predicted in the base planning scenarios.”
He said a significant reduction in the risk of load shedding depended on two factors. “Firstly, an additional 4 000 – 6 000MW megawatts of base capacity is required to be commissioned. Secondly, Eskom needs to improve the reliability and predictability of the coal fleet,” he said.
Gordhan also said the procurement of additional capacity was the responsibility of the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy.
He stated that an improvement in the reliability and predictability of the coal fleet required adequate financial resources and generation capacity surplus on the system to execute the required additional reliability maintenance.
“To achieve this, Eskom is driving the generation turnaround programme that focuses on seven strategic initiatives,” he said.
“It is, however, imperative that all South Africans must pay for electricity, in particular delinquent municipalities that owe Eskom R47bn in arrears debt,” Gordhan said.