Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Parliament’s portfolio committee on public enterprises has welcomed the financial reports Eskom tabled on Thursday‚ but says it has seen similar promising reports before that were not followed by great events.

Eskom executives briefed the committee on the power utility’s annual performance plan and financial report on Wednesday.

"The committee welcomed what it heard about interventions made by the new board. However‚ it cautioned that the power utility has presented beautiful annual reports in the past‚ and yet now finds itself on the verge of collapse. The committee‚ on the other hand‚ is looking for sustainability at Eskom.

"The committee also noted with concern the amount of R13.5bn that municipalities owe the power utility. Eskom appealed to the committee for intervention on this matter‚ as it is beyond Eskom’s control‚" the committee said in an official statement.

It also welcomed the continuing Eskom investigation into 239 cases of employee misconduct. The committee said it was pleased to hear that punitive steps were being taken against employees who had been involved in acts of corruption.

Eskom executives told MPs on Wednesday that the total system stockpile for all power stations was now at 34 days. If Medupi and Kusile were included‚ that rose to 67 days.

Executives said they needed urgent authorisation from the Treasury to purchase more coal without having to go to tender‚ as seven power stations had coal stockpiles that were lower than the levels required.

Meanwhile‚ coal was being moved from stations that had healthy stockpiles to stations that did not have sufficient stock.

But energy activist Ted Blom warned that Eskom had less than 10 days to implement drastic corrective measures or SA would face another blackout similar to that of 2008.

Blom‚ a partner at Mining and Energy Advisors‚ said that, because the Tegeta mines were now in business rescue, "a good couple of billion rand will be required to restart operations".

"Given that the Optimum contract expires at the end of 2018‚ that is hardly likely to happen‚" he said in a statement.

The Gupta-owned Tegeta Exploration and Resources mines supplied three power stations‚ including Hendrina‚ Komati and Majuba.

The portfolio committee said Eskom must take a decision about working with the state-owned mining company to source coal.

"Discussions need to take place between the board and management in order to capacitate the state-owned mining company‚ which is under the Department of Energy‚" the statement read.

The committee also welcomed Eskom’s decision to implement lifestyle audits on employees.