Outa forcing Eskom to spill the beans

BY LINDA ENSOR
Eskom Medupi Power Station.
Eskom Medupi Power Station.  Image: Business Times
Eskom’s attempt to keep some of its operating data secret will be scrutinised at a public hearing this week, following a successful appeal by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse.

Outa suspects that Eskom wants to hide the stats because they would reveal how much “Gupta coal” Eskom consumes – which costs it double what it pays other suppliers.

The coal comes from the controversially acquired Gupta company Optimum Coal.

The public hearing will be held at the head office of the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) in Pretoria on Friday.

Eskom applied to Nersa in February for permission to keep secret certain statistics that would be expected to be cited in its forthcoming application for a 19.9% tariff increase for next year.

Last year Nersa amended its rules for applications for multiyear price determinations to require greater transparency by Eskom. But, according to Outa, Eskom has applied for exemption from publishing those stats.

Outa suspects that Eskom wants to hide the stats because they would reveal how much “Gupta coal” Eskom consumes – which costs it double what it pays other suppliers.

Outa argues that this application should be rejected.

“Outa objected to these exemptions when stakeholders were asked to offer written comment earlier this year.

“In addition, Outa informed Nersa that, in our opinion, [Eskom] is obliged to hold public hearings on this critical matter,” Outa director for energy Ted Blom said yesterday.

He said the organisation had information “relating to the ongoing corruption, fraud and mismanagement at Eskom. This was confirmed by the State of Capture report by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, as well as by several additional forensic reports that have since been published.

“Today it is an established fact that Eskom is a corrupt cesspool of ongoing crime.”

Blom says in his submission to Nersa that the “gross stealing and corruption” at the power utility nullifies any justification for tariff increases – which should be reduced by 50%.

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