Struggling state-run power firm Eskom wants the government to take on R100 billion of its debt as part of a turnaround plan to shore up its balance sheet, Eskom chairperson Jabu Mabuza has said.
Cash-strapped Eskom is struggling to emerge from a financial crisis characterised by declining electricity sales, ballooning debt and liquidity problems.
Mabuza made the comments to Business Day as Eskom was meeting investors on a roadshow to London and the United States this week.
A financial market source in London confirmed to Reuters that Mabuza had told investors about moving R100 billion of Eskom’s debt on to the government’s balance sheet.
Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe declined to elaborate on Mabuza’s comments, saying the company’s turnaround plan was still the subject of discussions with key stakeholders in government.
Mabuza told a news conference last week that asset sales could not solve Eskom’s problems and that a bailout or debt relief were preferable. The utility expects to make a loss before tax of more than R11.2 billion this financial year.
Meanwhile, Eskom has implemented “stage two loadshedding” on Wednesday due to a shortage of capacity.
“As a result of a shortage of capacity due to a number of generating units still out of service due to breakdowns, Eskom will be implementing stage-two rotational load shedding from 9am and this is likely to continue until 10pm,” said Eskom.
The power utility said its maintenance teams continue to work hard to bring the units back to service.
“Customers are reminded to treat all electrical points as live during load shedding. Eskom would like to sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused.
“We continue to appeal to residents and businesses to use electricity sparingly during this period. Please switch off geysers as well as all non-essential lighting and electricity appliances to assist in reducing demand.”
Stage 2 calls for 2 000MW to be rotationally loadshed nationally at a given period. Load shedding is conducted rotationally as a measure of last resort to protect the power system from a total collapse or blackout.
For Eskom customers, loadshedding schedules are available here. Customers can also contact the customer contact centre at 0860 037 566. – Additional reporting by SAnews.gov.za