Eskom said municipalities owed it R35.2 billion and it wanted its money.
Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter said that most Eskom power stations had coal supplies of an average of 51.7 days and none were below the required 20 days. De Ruyter was presenting the status of the power utility on Monday.
He said that it was regrettable that load shedding was still being implemented today.
De Ruyter said that key challenges included theft and vandalism that cost the power utility R2 billion a year and that Eskom was working closely with law enforcement on prevention methods.
De Ruyter said illegal connections also threaten to cause explosions and fires due to overloading.
“As of 31 January this year, municipalities owed Eskom an amount of R35.2 billion, which is an unsustainable situation.”
Eskom said it was in continuous talks with government to recover money owed by municipalities and the power utility had met with various stakeholders under the guidance of Deputy President David Mabuza.
De Ruyter said a partnership model was in the making: “And will involve Eskom assisting those municipalities to operate their distribution networks, install prepaid meters, assist in revenue collection and carry out much-needed maintenance in those municipal distribution networks.”
He said Eskom had to implement load reduction during peak hours in areas that had a high number of illegal connections to protect infrastructure, otherwise, transformers would be overloaded and explode or catch fire and then they would have to be replaced.
Eskom said that it had no choice but to continue with rolling blackouts because it could not compromise the maintenance of its aging fleet of power stations.
“If you take Khusile and Medupi out of the equation, the average age of the coal-fired power stations are in excess of 40-years-old, so if you don’t maintain it and you run it in the red all the time, then it is very clear why you find yourself where we find ourselves at this point in time.”
Oberholzer said that it was important to ensure the reliability of the old fleet and to improve the performance of new stations.