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Load shedding continues

According to ENCA today South Africa will see stage three load shedding, following yesterday’s stage four load shedding.

“Despite the generating units returning to service as planned, the emergency reserves (diesel and water) are still very low,” Eskom said.

EWN reports that Eskom’s CEO Phakamani Hadebe has said that the breakdown at seven units yesterday could have been avoided.

He also said that our new power plants are only producing about half the power they should, and our old power plants are facing challenges.

Five of the seven units that went down yesterday are back up, and the other two should be coming back online sometime today, but load shedding is expected to continue until at least the end of the week.

The Citizen meanwhile has reported that an independent power producer told them job shedding is going to be inevitable at Eskom, as it is at least 60% overstaffed.

Unions have been rather negative about Cyril Ramaphosa’s plan to unbundle the utility into three parts, feeling that this is the first step towards privatisation.

Saftu is worried that this would lead to 50,000 job losses.

Yesterday Fin24 reported that Ramaphosa was angry at the fact that Eskom dysfunctional state had resulted in stage four load shedding, saying that it demonstrates why Eskom needs a different business model.

Vavi, the head of Saftu, meanwhile retweeted this:

My Take

The financial crisis of 2007 hit back when I was working on a business page, its part of why I took a particular interest in that particular crisis, in that I had a sort of front row seat to watching it unfold.

Part of the crisis was – derivatives. The way sub-prime loans were restructured and repacked to make them “safe bets” so far as ratings agencies were concerned.

The thing was these were high risk loans, in a country that hadn’t had a proper wage increase since the late 1970s, you can’t repackage a turd into not being a turd.

And when the whole crisis hit the fan, that is what it turned out these derivatives were.

So I’m skeptical on how unbundling Eskom into three units is supposed to fix anything, because the problem so far as I can see is not Eskom’s structure.

The problem is that we have an ANC government which is useless. It isn’t going to suddenly stop being useless by having three boards instead of one.

And of course because of the ANC’s uselessness, we ignored expert advice way back in 1998 telling us we needed to start planning new power plants, and in 2007 ended up doing rushed jobs on Medupi and Kusile that have resulted in shoddy work.

This hasn’t been helped by how corruption led to us overpaying for coal that was breaking our power plants, when it was delivered at all.

All of this means we aren’t generating the power we need.

How does changing Eskom’s structure fix any of this?

In terms of layoffs it may be a decent excuse to sweep the utility clean, but we should be doing that anyway whether we restructure or not.

I don’t think restructuring particularly aids privatisation. If the ANC wanted it could start privatising Eskom at any time, it doesn’t require breaking it up to do it.

And the same goes for Independent Power Producers – having three companies rather than one under the auspices of government doesn’t really change anything there either.

I look at the plan to break up Eskom, and it looks like window dressing to me. It looks more like something the ANC is doing to make it look like it is solving the problem, but its all a bit of a non-sequitur.

We need more power, lets change the board structure? Boards don’t generate power, power plants generate power. One company or three, if the ANC wins in the next election it is still going to be the ANC, so what are we really gaining out of this?

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