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I know Eskom has to be fixed, but that “fixing” will include a number of uncomfortable measures, including the closure of obsolete power stations. 

It is worth remembering that the R6bn already paid this year for diesel burnt at Eskom’s peaking plants doesn’t include the fuel costs of hundreds of idling trucks waiting to offload coal at Eskom power stations.

When I was supplying Eskom, first prize was delivery via conveyor belt straight into the power station coal yard. The second option was rail using automatic tippers. When I started supplying  the Vierfontein power station by truck Eskom closed it down on account of cost.  

Some 35 years later the remaining coal reserves are not as generous as they once were. However, the cost of diesel is multiples higher than it was then. Power stations should still be grouped on  the basis of how the coal is delivered.

If conveyors are not in use but there is potential for them, as possibly at Arnot, this option needs to be pursued, failing which railway access must be possible. The stations with only road access will burn the most expensive coal and must be high on the list for closure. It may even be cost effective to rebuild boilers in old stations with potential conveyor access.

This, of course, will not be good news for Mpumalanga’s politically connected coal supply industry. But this is where the overnment must act decisively in the national interest.

James Cunningham, Camps Bay

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