Are we being kept in the dark by the Minister of Electricity?

Issued by Samantha Graham-Maré MP – DA Shadow Minister of Electricity
11 Jul 2023 in News
  • Electricity’s Minister Ramakgopa’s claim of no increase in loadshedding was proven false as the country returned to Stage 4 power cuts shortly after the statement.
  • The recent cold weather has also put Eskom’s ability to handle winter demand to the test.
  • The DA is concerned about the unsustainable and dishonest practices employed to maintain lower stages of loadshedding.

Please find attached a soundbite by Samantha Graham-Maré MP.

Barely one day after the Minister of Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramakgopa stated that he expected that there would be no increase in loadshedding, we return to Stage 4. And barring a short spate of rainfall in June, this current cold snap is also the first real test of Eskom’s ability to withstand winter demand.

It has certainly been a welcome relief to have had limited loadshedding for the last month but it appears that the reasons for it, as well as the ability of the power supplier to maintain it, are questionable.

In the first instance, we have been advised that the reason for lower loadshedding stages has been as a result of a 12% increase in the electricity availability factor (EAF), bringing it to 70%. Both the Minister and Cabinet have stated this. However, they clearly did not consult with Eskom before releasing this figure as according to Eskom’s own reports, the EAF is hovering at around 58%.

We have also been advised that the lower loadshedding stages is due to a lower than predicted electricity demand. This has been attributed to several factors including increases in private electricity generation, as well as curtailment by large users of electricity.

However, at the first sign of real winter temperatures, a high demand has kicked loadshedding into a higher gear.

What is further perturbing about the perceived improvement in Eskom’s ability to deal with the energy crisis is that billions of rands are being literally burnt in an effort to keep the loadshedding stages low, as open cycle gas turbines consume massive amounts of diesel to power the country. This is financially and technically unsustainable, aside from being a somewhat dishonest attempt to hide the critical state of our energy infrastructure.

The DA is extremely concerned that, while Dr Ramokgopa appears to have reduced loadshedding in recent weeks, as per his mandate, the reality is that there has been a confluence of factors that have created an enabling environment for lower stages of rolling blackouts. And none of them are long term solutions.

Instead, the medium to long term solutions being proposed require substantial financial outlay, well into the billions, in a country with a shrinking economy being throttled by the energy crisis.

The DA will continue to monitor the actual information provided by Eskom versus that provided by the Minister of Electricity in his weekly briefings in order to ensure that South Africans know the true status of our energy crisis and not an ANC sanitised version aimed at buying votes for the election next year. Faking figures will not solve our crisis. We need the unvarnished truth if we are to find genuine, long-term and sustainable solutions.

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