R18bn needed to finish Kusile and Medupi - and 'there's no going back'
Eskom will finish building the troubled Kusile and Medupi power stations, despite running far over budget and behind schedule.
That is what Eskom chairperson Jabu Mabuza said on Wednesday during a media briefing at the Lethabo power station in the Free State. Mabuza claimed it would cost about R18bn to finish Kusile and Medupi.
Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe said Medupi was 94% done and Kusile between 89% and 91% completed. “There’s no going back. We just have to correct what we have," he said.
Hadebe added that the government had approved R49bn for maintenance on power plants over the next five years, including R5.5bn to address issues at Medupi and Kusile. He further added that the power utility would cut R20bn in operating costs over the next three to four years to sustain the business.
Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan said electricity tariff hikes could not continue “forever” at current levels. “They do have a negative impact on different parts of the business world," he said.
He posited that if all went according to plan, there would either be no load-shedding - or stage 1 "at the most" - provided that Eskom's turnaround plan is implemented "110%".
Gordhan assured the nation that there was a plan to ensure the lights stayed on this winter. "We have a winter plan," he said, adding that May 1 would be regarded as the start of the season.
"We have as an aim that there should be no load-shedding from now … If there is load-shedding, at the most we will see level 1 load-shedding on a few occasions."
Addressing the briefing, UCT energy expert Anton Eberhard from the presidential task team said Eskom faced problems resulting from the aftermath of state capture, which hollowed out the skills and finances of the power utility.
"The best people left - some of those who have been distracted by rent-seeking activities as well," he said.
Eberhard said the government pledging R23bn annually to Eskom and the tariff hikes were insufficient to help Eskom out of trouble. "No single intervention will solve the problem. There's not a silver bullet," he said.
Meanwhile, Gordhan added that Willie Hofmeyr's return to the helm of the Asset Forfeiture Unit was “excellent” news that could lead to the prosecution of Eskom's former bosses.
“He’s an old campaigner in that field," said Gordhan about Hofmeyr.