Eskom losing 35% of its power to theft, MPs told

2010-04-26 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — Evidence of slow decline is evident from the confidential Eskom report the Democratic Alliance spokesperson for public enterprises, Pieter van Dalen, disclosed in parliament last week.

The report indicates that 35% of the power that Eskom delivers to households is stolen electricity.

On Tuesday, Van Dalen set the cat among the pigeons when, during a sitting of the portfolio committee for public enterprises, he quoted from the report, showing that BHP Billiton is paying only 12c per kilowatt hour for electricity at its Mozal aluminium smelter, which is far below cost.

But the 291-page report contains a lot of information other than details of the controversial aluminium contracts.

Among other things, it is clear that Eskom’s distribution division is suffering huge losses in the supply of electricity to households — in other words, electricity that is being stolen.

The average loss is 35% of the electricity supplied over a 12-month period, against a 26% target.

The report states that the high losses in terms of household supply are chiefly because of the accessibility of meters and the theft of electricity. Prepaid meters have been installed in some cases, leading to improvement.

But electricity losses in June 2009 were considerably higher.

During that month Eskom supplied 13 082 gigawatt hours, but was paid for only 10 786GWh, a loss of 2 289GWh.

The problems apparently occurred principally in Gauteng. June sales in the province were 23GWh down on those of the previous month.

Non-payment of electricity supplied is also a problem. In Soweto, for instance, Eskom is paid for only 26% of the electricity that it delivers.

The Eskom report also contains detailed information on issues like staff numbers and staff expenditure, as well as low productivity.

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