Eskom Latest: Irregular-Spending Exemption; Power Outages Ease

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(Bloomberg) -- South Africa’s government exempted the state power utility from reporting irregular spending for the next two fiscal years.

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A notice published in the official Government Gazette spares Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. from disclosing “any irregular expenditure and fruitless and wasteful expenditure.” The announcement, signed by Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, covers the fiscal year that ended on March 31 and the coming two years.

The National Treasury plans to issue a “technical explanation” soon to clarify the rationale behind the measure, Cape Town-based news website News24 reported.

Power Cuts Ease as Generating Plants Repaired (April 2, 7:25 p.m.)

Eskom decreased power outages from Monday, after repairs at some generation plants.

Eskom will remove 3,000 megawatts from the national grid from 5 a.m. on Monday until 4 p.m. in the afternoon, according to a statement issued on Sunday. From then, 4,000 megawatts will be removed until 5 a.m. Tuesday.

“The pattern will be repeated daily until further notice,” it said. There have been rolling blackouts in South Africa every month of this year.

Eskom Faces $53 Million Fine Over Nuclear Repairs: ST (April 2, 6:01 p.m.)

Eskom’s decision last year to delay a generator-replacement project at its Koeberg nuclear power plant resulted in a 950 million-rand ($53-million) fine, the Sunday Times reported, without citing anyone.

The penalty was awarded to French nuclear-reactor company Framatome SA, which has a contract to manufacture and replace six steam generators at Koeberg, the Johannesburg-based newspaper said. It follows a court order for Eskom to pay 650 million rand to Framatome in May 2022 in another payment dispute with Framatome, it said.

Eskom is taking legal advice on the latest matter, the paper said. Koeberg’s unit 1, which provides 920 megawatts of generation capacity, will be unavailable in South Africa’s winter months, it said.

Eskom Appoints Martin Buys as Acting CFO (March 31, 3:16 p.m.)

Eskom appointed Martin Buys as acting chief financial officer. Buys, who started at the utility in 1987, has held various roles in finance, Eskom said in an interim results statement.

The appointment was made with immediate effect

Former CEO Agrees to Testify on Corruption (March 30, 5:20 p.m.)

Eskom’s former chief executive officer, Andre de Ruyter, agreed to appear before lawmakers to provide information on corruption at the company, according to South Africa’s parliament.

De Ruyter responded to an urgent invitation from the Standing Committee on Public Accounts to give more details about allegations he made last month that connected top government officials to graft. The former CEO will respond in writing on the issues he’s raised and “is agreeable to appearing” before the committee at a date to be determined, it said.

Concern Over Koeberg Delay (March 29, 11:31 p.m.)

A delay in completing maintenance at Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.’s sole nuclear power plant is worrying as South Africa heads into winter, when electricity demand increases, according to Alan Winde, premier of the Western Cape province.

Work on the Koeberg plant north of Cape Town has stalled and is running weeks late, adding to energy shortages that have led to daily power cuts to protect the system from a complete blackout. “We can’t be behind right now,” Winde said. “We’ve got to be on time, on budget.”

The premier met last weekend with South African Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, who mentioned that a foreign investor has expressed interest in establishing a 3,000-megawatt gas-fired plant in the Western Cape. The proposal is still at an early stage and, if it goes ahead, fuel could possibly be brought to the site via a pipeline from Saldanha Bay, 155 kilometers (97 miles) north of Cape Town, Winde said in a telephone interview.

--With assistance from Paul Burkhardt, Paul Vecchiatto and Antony Sguazzin.

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