Eskom is on the verge of a coal and governance crisis, according to a report in the Sunday Times.
The report quoted energy analyst Ted Blom, who said that the “scale of Eskom’s supply, financial, and equipment problems” may result in it shutting down before the end of the year.
Before this, however, there are chances of blackouts and load-shedding over the festive season as Eskom is dangerously low on coal.
This all coincides with C-level executives being forced to leave Eskom in recent months under a cloud of corruption and maladministration accusations. Forensic reports have also recommended criminal probes into Eskom.
While the dire state of Eskom’s governance is a serious problem for the country, a more immediate threat is the fact that its power stations are running out of coal.
Eskom warned last week that the risk of nationwide electricity outages continues to increase due to a serious decline in coal stockpiles.
The latest report now states that Eskom was allocating R11.5 billion over the next year to address coal supply shortages.
This may be too late to stop power outages in the coming weeks, however, as 10 of its power stations have less than 10 days of coal supply left.
Eskom is meant to have a minimum of 20 days of coal at a power station, added the report.
“This had led Eskom to start using its diesel generators, at far greater cost than it takes to run the coal-fired stations or the Koeberg nuclear plant,” said the Sunday Times.
Eskom has therefore requested South Africans to use electricity sparingly as they are close to blackouts taking place.
Making matters worse is that any heavy rain could make current coal supplies wet and unable to burn, and “normal supply levels” are only expected in 2019.
While all of this takes place, Eskom continues to ask for electricity price increases in South Africa.
Eskom has asked Nersa for a 15% tariff increase per year for a 3-year period.
This is in addition to a 4.41% price increase which has already been granted to Eskom by Nersa.