Eskom power station. Picture: REUTERS
Eskom power station. Picture: REUTERS

Eskom announced on Thursday that the probability of load-shedding would remain low until January 13, due to an decrease in demand from business and industries over the festive break. 

“However heavy rains over the December to March period could impact coal handling and feeding to the boilers with a potential impact on generation production,” it said in a statement. 

“While we do not anticipate load-shedding we continue to warn customers that as the system remains vulnerable, any shift could increase the probability of load-shedding. Eskom will communicate if there is a change.”

Currently, the financially dire state utility operates thanks to a R350bn debt guarantee by the government, which has been flagged as the biggest risk to the fiscus.

Eskom, which supplies most of SA’s electricity, has massed R419bn worth of debt over the past 10 years due to its huge capital build programme. It is now unable to pay interest costs from revenue earned and must borrow to service its debt. Interest costs over the next three years are projected to be R250bn.

Overall debt is projected to rise to R600bn over three years if debt levels are not contained.

Business Day reported earlier in December that Eskom would ask the government to take R100bn of its debt onto its own balance sheet.

While the move would give Eskom relief, it would add another two percentage points to the government’s debt-to-GDP ratio and could be seen as negative by credit-ratings agencies.

Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan said on Thursday that there was nothing definite with regard to the R100bn figure.