All eyes are on electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa who has big plans to curtail load shedding as rolling blackouts continue to be severe and frequent.
Speaking at a ruling party ANC executive committee on Friday (21 April), the minister provided the following interventions to ease load shedding over six months, including; relying more on diesel-powered emergency generators, attending to fundamental deficiencies at the five worst power stations and exempting certain areas of the country from blackouts.
BusinessDay reported that the minister told reporters, “These are the actions that have to be taken up immediately … you are not going to avoid load-shedding even with these interventions, but we want to ensure that the levels of load-shedding still make it possible for major industries to operate.”
According to the publication, Ramokgopa said that to finance the procurement of more diesel for the open cycle gas turbines (OCGTs), Eskom will rely on funds from its latest granted tariff hike of 18.65% and previously allocated money from the fiscus.
The minister said this would allow for R30 billion in diesel procurement, and the government should buy directly from the supplier.
To improve the performance of Tutuka, Kendal, Majuba, Duvha and Matla power stations, Business Day reported that Ramokgopa said that to undermine the adverse knock-on effects of units failing, Eskom will reduce the rate they are taking out for unplanned maintenance.
He further recommended that hospitals, police stations, and communications infrastructure be exempted.
Despite all these recommendations for easing load shedding, Ramokgopa said that load shedding is likely to stick around and that it is not possible to end load shedding in 2023.
Speaking at an ANC executive committee meeting on Saturday (22 April), the minister of electricity said that load shedding will still be with South Africa even by the end of the calendar year. Still, the government is doing everything it can to ensure the intensity of it is not as severe.
EWN reported that Ramokqopa, during the meeting, listed the several interventions in play while also focusing on the addition of 4,000 MW of power to the national grid over the next six months.
Although the minister has tabled these plans, he has little political backing or power through regulation to act on them.
The electricity minister is currently embroiled in ANC infighting over the national power utility. Insiders to the government and various other news publications confirm that the energy minister Gwede Mantashe, the public enterprise minister Pravin Gordhan, and Ramokqopa are all butting heads over Eskom.