Former Eskom CEO Jacob Maroga said the power utility has fundamentally improved following changes in its leadership, which is beginning to bear fruit with reduced load-shedding.
Maroga told eNCA that the improved performance from Eskom is no fluke but is down to the President’s Energy Action Plan, the electricity minister, and changes in the utility’s leadership.
South Africa has experienced less load-shedding in winter than anticipated, with the country averaging stage 3 load-shedding.
This is due to a warmer-than-expected winter and reduced demand, particularly from large industrial businesses, said Maroga.
Eskom’s tariff structure encourages industrial companies to use less electricity in winter, so they tend to schedule maintenance on their plants during this period to avoid paying higher tariffs.
These factors have resulted in reduced demand than anticipated in Eskom’s winter plan and, thus, require lower levels of load-shedding to balance supply and demand.
However, Maroga said that South Africans cannot discount the fundamental improvements at Eskom, which have resulted in its improved performance.
Maroga emphasised Eskom’s current leadership’s focus on fixing its coal fleet and the recognition that it is the biggest lever it can use to solve load-shedding.
Eskom previously focused too much on Independent Power Producers and neglected its current infrastructure, which was allowed to deteriorate.
The former CEO also praised the decision to appoint a permanent head of generation that has experience working at the utility.
Electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa’s appointment was the last fundamental change Maroga noted.
The minister’s appointment means that someone at the political level solely focuses on Eskom and its issues.
The combination of these changes has ensured the “atmosphere around Eskom has fundamentally changed. It is more positive and focused.”
But, the former CEO cautioned that it is still early days. “Machines can break down. Eskom is not out of the woods yet,” he said.
“We should be careful not to be over-optimistic”, he urged. “South Africans must wait to see if the performance improvements are sustained.”