Eskom unveils details of next stage of utility’s unbundling

Eskom said it will give the transmission unit that it’s transforming into a separate entity a R39.9-billion loan to make sure it can complete projects and be financially viable.

The loan will be guaranteed by the transmission unit’s assets with Eskom’s creditors able to call on them if the utility doesn’t pay them, it said in a presentation to creditors on Thursday. Government guarantees will remain in place. The company will be known as the National Transmission Company of South Africa, or NTCSA.

Eskom’s board will approve an annual borrowing plan for the transmission company and this will come in the form of inter-company loans, the utility said. Any borrowing over and above the plan will need to be approved by Eskom.

The state-owned power utility, which is R396-billion in debt, is separating into transmission, generation and distribution units that will operate as separate entities in a bid to improve its operational and financial performance. The company has subjected South Africa to intermittent power outages since 2008.

The transmission unit, which will be the first business to be separated, will take control of employees, contracts and assets when all conditions are met including obtaining licences from energy regulator Nersa.

Its purpose is to act as a national transmission network operator and a system market operator, allowing it to take in electricity from Eskom and privately run power plants as well as channelling imports from countries such as Mozambique.

The company’s assets and liabilities will match at R80.5-billion each and will include a R20.8-billion equity injection from Eskom, according to the presentation. From later this year the regulator will be asked to determine a separate transmission tariff, which will provide the company with revenue, while Eskom will still use a generation and distribution tariff.

“The resulting specific transmission tariff should be sufficient to enable NTCSA to run its operations in a manner that is cost efficient,” Eskom said in the presentation.  — (c) 2022 Bloomberg LP