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Persistent Power Crisis: Eskom Loses Three More Power Plant Units, Intensifies Load-shedding

Published September 21, 2023
8 months ago

In an alarming escalation of South Africa's power crisis, the state electricity utility, Eskom, confirmed on Thursday the loss of three more power plant units, leading to a more severe, constant Stage 4 power cut until future notice. The continual power reductions underscore the nationwide electricity supply inadequacies and Eskom's operational challenges.

Eskom also revealed requirements to replenish its emergency generation reserves, commonly including diesel for its open-cycle gas turbines at Ankerlig and Gourikwa, and water stored at the pumped reservoirs like Ingula and Drakensberg. The specific reserves needed for replenishment were not specified in the company’s announcement.

The announcement of increased power outages followed the recent adjustment of load-shedding from a recurring schedule of stage 1 in daytime to stage 3 evening power cuts, into a more rigorous stage 2 and stage 4 rotation earlier this week. The step-up in power cuts was also triggered by the demise of three power generation units.

Adding to Eskom's woes, the National Treasury disclosed Eskom's looming financial problems with a disquieting R5-billion deficit recorded over the initial three months of its fiscal year, as illustrated by the unaudited first-quarter financials submitted to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) on Tuesday.

The increasing debts of municipalities notably deteriorated Eskom’s financial performance. From 31st March to 30th June 2023, the municipal debt rose from R58.5 billion to R63.7 billion, threatening Eskom's financial stability in the long haul. With declining sales volumes, the strangled generation supply has resulted in load-curtailment and load-shedding.

By the end of June 2023, Eskom's debts and borrowings had climbed from R439.1 billion to R453.5 billion. This was primarily due to earlier funding agreements Eskom had entered rather than accumulating new debt– a move which finance minister Enoch Godongwana has prohibited without specific consent.

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