When Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe delivered an update on the state of the national power system on Friday, he also ignited a feeling of déjà vu. A nine-point plan presented by Eskom outlined critical issues the embattled utility has faced for some time, such as the lack of maintenance and an imminent coal supply crisis. The only immediate solution presented — which is no solution at all — is to ramp up spending on diesel to R1bn over the next four months in an attempt to keep the lights on while it tackles the causes of these persistent problems. As energy expert Ted Blom puts it, it has “eight problems and one fossil solution, and the solution is open cycle gas turbines”, which are diesel-run. Exactly how the utility might pay for this costly interim measure appears to be a problem for another day. Eskom has been on a knife’s edge for years and its debt service costs have grown to the point that they are higher than revenues. It is also struggling to keep the lights on. Ten of its 15...

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