Eskom chairman Jabu Mabuza said the only sustainable solution to Eskom’s financial woes is to drastically increase electricity prices.
Mabusa said on Thursday that Eskom will take the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) to court to have its tariff determination for 2018/19 set aside.
Nersa has granted Eskom a 5.23% tariff increase from 1 April 2018, but Eskom said it is not cost reflective – and that it wants to increase prices by 19.9%.
During public hearings in 2017, many stakeholders bemoaned the corruption and inefficiency at Eskom, saying it should not be allowed a double-digit price increase.
Nersa followed this advice, and granted Eskom a much lower increase than what it asked for.
“Sadly, we will, within the next 10 days, be launching a legal process to get that administrative decision set aside, with a view to getting it reviewed,” Engineering News quoted Mabuza as saying.
The Rapport Newspaper reported that Mabuza said unless they receive a much higher increase, they can easily burn through a R100-billion bailout in four years.
It added that Eskom wants to double its profits from electricity sales to pay off its mounting debt, which is only possible through a big increase in pricing.
If Eskom is successful in its court action, the issue will be referred back to Nersa for a new determination.
“We are very much clear that, at the end of the day, the court won’t give us a tariff and we will have to go back to Nersa,” said Mabuza.
Going under fast
The City Press reported in November 2017 that Eskom was wasting billions on power stations when there was no demand, and was “going down and under very, very fast”.
This was according to energy adviser in the presidency Silas Zimu, who said “we are not going to have the same Eskom we had 10 years ago”.
In July 2018, the Sunday Times reported that Eskom was running out of money and it only had enough to last three months.
Eskom lashed out at reports that it was “broke”, saying it was confident it could keep going.
“The company is confident that it will maintain sufficient liquidity to support its operations,” said Eskom.