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Eskom CEO says ‘days of surprises’ over as power plans in place

‘We know what needs to be done and we have an idea of how it should be done,’ says Hadebe.

Almost 15 months into the job, and the boss of South Africa’s state-owned electricity company is getting to grips with issues spanning corruption to defective power plants that threatened to collapse the grid.

“The days of surprises are over,” Eskom chief executive officer Phakamani Hadebe said in an interview Tuesday. “We just have to speed up the process of turning things around.’’

Hadebe said a “breakdown in corporate governance’’ and the financial viability of the business were the biggest challenges when he was appointed after President Cyril Ramaphosa took over leadership of the country. The CEO also faced increasing operational issues, forcing Eskom to implement periodic power cuts from December through March. Now the situation is under control, he said.

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What Eskom is not telling us …

No turning back now: Medupi and Kusile will be completed

The utility, which provides 95% of the electricity to the most industrialised nation in Africa, announced earlier this month a plan to minimise power cuts after an assessment with a technical review team identified the root causes of unplanned breakdowns.

“We know what needs to be done and we have an idea of how it should be done and we’re in a better space now,’’ he said. “We have reason to have high expectations.’’

The cost of the new Medupi and Kusile plants has ballooned to more than R300 billion ($21.2 billion), and the discovery of defects will add further to expenses. Still, Hadebe said there are encouraging signs for the next boilers to come online. A new unit at Kusile was synchronised to the grid on April 14, the utility said.

Death spiral

Ramaphosa in February announced plans to divide Eskom into generation, transmission and distribution units, as it joins other utilities in experiencing the so-called “death spiral,” where demand is in terminal decline as alternative sources of electricity become available such as solar panels and clients switch to more efficient equipment like light emitting diode, or LED, lights.

The split helps to achieve transparency and will allow for “clarity of operations” and more accountability by managers for the performance of stations and units, according to Hadebe.

Revenue will continue to drop by 1%age point a year, which is about R2 billion, he said. Eskom can make a difference by reducing costs, primarily through procurement and coal purchases, Hadebe said.

Treasury background

When Hadebe worked at Treasury until 2008, one of his responsibilities was to look at the financial oversight of state-owned companies including Eskom. The utility’s debt has since increased more than 11-fold to R450 billion, he said.

The malfeasance, which boosted Eskom’s debt and the tackling of which was a large part of his original mandate, has largely been addressed, according to Hadebe.

“While there might be pockets of corruption, it’s not that the tentacles start from the board,’’ the CEO said.

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P

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For some strange reason I just don’t think I trust your assurances. Try getting through this winter before telling the world everything is fine. I’m afraid this highlights the problems at Eskom – good words are no substitute for hardwork and Hadebe still doesn’t get it.

If I tell my boss that “I have an idea of how it should be done” I will get my behind kicked hard. I am supposed to know exactly what to do and even if I don’t, I should have found out already.

The article is specifically quoted as him saying “The days of surprises are over” and not “the days of load shedding are over”.

When he says “no more surprises”, does he mean that 1) all power outages will now be planned or does he mean that 2) power outages won’t happen again?

Good story for anc supporters , the rest of us who can afford it have genies and backup batteries or solar options
AFRICAN POLITICIANS ARE NOT TO BE BELIEVED

Let’s recall Piet Retief from centuries’ of being dead and ask him if we should trust and believe this joker….

The level of competence displayed by this person is exceptional – he has been in the job for almost 15 months and his best statement “we know what needs to be done and we have an idea of how it should be done” Reminds me of the Titanic – the captain knew what needed to be done as does the captain of Eskom – lets hope we don’t end up with another disaster

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