Maintenance, debt servicing key to electricity distribution: Ramokgopa

The Minister in the Presidency responsible for Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, has emphasised the importance of infrastructure maintenance and the servicing of municipal debt to help keep the lights on.

In his weekly Energy Action Plan briefing in Pretoria on Sunday, Ramokgopa said poor maintenance and lack of servicing debt are among the reasons some communities go without electricity, even long after load shedding.

“…Transformers and substations have failed and blown up [in some communities] as a result of demand that exceeds the capacity of those assets,” Ramokgopa said.

Ramokgopa said in some instances, municipalities are underspending by R2 billion, money which should be spent servicing and maintaining infrastructure.

According to the Minister, municipalities owe Eskom about R63.2 billion.

Ramokgopa said there is a number of municipalities that have entered into agreements to pay their debts. However, some municipalities have defaulted on their arrangements and failed to make payments as agreed.

Ramokgopa said failure to pay Eskom undermines the entity’s ability to service and maintain the electricity distribution network, resulting in replenishment budgets being depleted on fixing repeat breakdowns of sub-stations and other transmission units.

“We are working with Eskom and the Head of Distribution and his team to ensure that we are able to find sustainable solutions to the problem. We are in discussions with colleagues from Distribution, National Treasury and the South African Local Government Association (Salga) to try address the debt of the municipalities.

“Communities are not able to get the electricity they deserve that they have paid for as a result of failure of infrastructure,” Ramokgopa said.

On Friday, Ramokgopa undertook a working visit to Namibia to participate in a bilateral meeting with the Minister of Mines and Energy in Namibia, Tom Alweendo.

The meeting explored opportunities for mutual cooperation between South Africa and Namibia.

The meeting also discussed the development and exploitation of gas reserves from the Kudu fields in the Orange Basin to provide an affordable gas fired base load power of up to 8 40MW for 35 years. South Africa could benefit from up to 600MW of this.

Source: South African Government News Agency