Eskom's Khoza: We can afford to pay January salaries

Johannesburg - Eskom chairperson Zethembe Khoza on Friday denied reports that the power utility will be unable to pay January 2018 salaries to its staff. He also promised the board will release the delayed interim results before the end of December.

When pressed for more information, acting CEO Sean Maritz explained Eskom is waiting for the decision from energy regulator Nersa on its application for a 19.9% tariff hike.

“Nersa’s decision will impact on investors - as the chairperson said, we have enough money to pay salaries; we have also received additional funding,” Maritz said, without detailing where the additional funding has come from.

The media was prevented from asking further questions and asked to leave the venue where the Eskom board is holding its special general meeting.

The energy regulator announced later on Friday that it has declined Eskom's request for a 20% tariff increase, instead granting the power utility a hike closer to inflation.

Fin24 and EE Publishers reported in November that Eskom only had R1.2bn in liquidity reserves by the end of the month.

No decision yet on IPP deals

Meanwhile, the 27 independent power producers (IPPs) will still have to wait for final approval before power purchase agreements can be signed with the renewable energy sector.

Eskom said on Friday it will raise risks while the matter is up for approval according to the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

“We need to create a sustainable Eskom for the future and raise risks and this is currently being tabled,” Maritz said.

He added a meeting is being set up with the ministers of energy and finance to resolve the issue.

Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown clarified that she doesn’t have a PFMA application on her desk.

“We want to try resolve the price and cost issues between DPE (the Department of Public Enterprises), Treasury and Eskom,” she said.

The signing of the IPP power purchase agreements was postponed yet again on Thursday. Minister of Energy David Mahlobo told the Energy Indaba last week that Eskom was working on the contracts. However, he remained mum on whether the cap of 77 cents per kilowatt hour, announced by his predecessor Mmamoloko Kubayi, will remain in place.

The renewable energy industry, which is expected to unlock more than R50bn in investment, is opposed to the figure, saying it’s too low.

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