Tag Archive | multi-year price determination

Sovereign rating time after budget and SONA

SONA and Budget 2013/4 beat the pundits…   

zuma2With budget behind us, the script for the state of nation address (SONA) becomes a little clearer.

At the time SONA wasn’t what was expected and represented to many a total let down insofar as direction, information and inspiration was concerned.   President Zuma’s speech was really quite remarkable for the subjects it didn’t touch upon or skirted around.   Perhaps that’s what happens when a majority party is half way through its current tenure of office.

In all fairness, however, there is so much that is about to happen in South Africa on infrastructure development and so much “in the pipeline”, that there was little the current government could do other than recycle the list of eighteen major projects that the twenty seven government departments and sixteen utilities having been talking about for months, sometimes years, all of which seem in a pretty embryonic stage. The hope is that when it all comes together, it won’t be too late.

NERSA played a trump card

On energy, little was said – in fact practically nothing at all that was not patently obvious such as the fact that Medupi and Kusile are being built. In fact nothing was said on electricity at all, the reason for which was to become evident in the NERSA decision the following week when Eskom’s multi year price determination call of 16% was toned down to 8%.

Dangerous budget

pravon gordhanAlso the following week and following SONA came Pravin Gordhan’s budget with its surprising nil increase on income tax, severe budget cuts, the introduction of carbon tax and an increased fuel levy. Once again the National Development Plan was heavily emphasised and perhaps at last government is going to get on with it with a new presidential infrastructure co-ordination commission to support the initiative.

The Budget was in some ways masterful but still frightens the credit rating agencies, with Gordhan trying to balance the books after an increased deficit over the previous year, something the new government used to pride itself on not needing under finance minister Trevor Manuel – but times change and the global recession arrived.

Executive powers

Interesting for Parliament is the introduction of the draft Infrastructure Development Bill giving extraordinarily wide powers to an all-powerful commission to be known as the presidential infrastructure co-ordination commission, as stated above, with all nine premiers, the President and Deputy President steering the ship in an effort to cut red tape and speed things up.

This can only be good, if only for the fact that the captain of the ship can speak alone to the twenty seven departments and sixteen utilities described above.

Public Service too big

Which leads to the issue of a somewhat bloated public service which has had the benefit of above-inflation increases this year, so it was pleasing to see that a skills audit of public servants is about to be commenced amongst the 1.2m public servants, which in a country of only 51m, is totally disproportionate.

Public Service and administration minister Lindiwe Sisulu told Parliament that the increase of 1% per year in salaries has to be turned into a decrease of 1% next year.

Encouragingly also, planning minister Trevor Manuel (who has but ten staff) has clearly indicated that he is relying on the parliamentary oversight system to beef up his programme to wake up to the National Development Plan.  How well Parliament scrutinizes the national budget in the coming weeks in every parliamentary portfolio committee demanding both value for money and delivery on time, every time, is now the critical issue.

Posted in Cabinet,Presidential, Energy, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables0 Comments

Eskom MYPD electricity call is to sustain ratings

 Eskom stands by its MYPD3 asking price…….

Brian Dames, CEO, Eskom, on their Multi-Year Price Determination (MYPD 3) application to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA), told parliamentarians of the trade and industry portfolio committee that price increases were necessary. He said that on one hand they had to have a respectable balance sheet to obtain development money whilst on the other hand, Eskom was coming from a background where investment activity had been inactive over the years.

“To keep the lights on”, Dames said, “there is now a cost.”

Electricity currently below cost

He said that because of historical reasons, electricity was currently charged at below cost-reflective levels and was not sustainable. Electricity prices needed now to have a “transition to cost-reflective levels to support a sustainable electricity industry that had resources to maintain operations and build new generating capacity, guaranteeing future security of supply.”

Dames said that Eskom had also recently issued an “interim integrated report” for the six months ended 30 September 2012 setting out a contextual review of the company’s overall performance from 1 April 2012 and in the light of this had presented the NERSA application.

He said that the current MYPD 2 was ending and consequently Eskom had to submit such an application to NERSA to determine the country’s electricity price adjustment for 2013/14.

However, this time Eskom was proposing a five-year determination for MYPD 3, running from 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2018, which would ensure a more gradual and predictable price path for households, businesses, investors and the country as a whole.

Eskom’s five-year revenue request translated into average electricity price increases of 13% a year for Eskom’s own needs, plus 3% to support the introduction of Independent Power Producers (IPPs), giving a total of 16%, representing a total price increase from the current 61 cents per kilowatt-hour (c/kWh) in 2012/13 to 128c/kW h in 2017/18.

Balance sought between needs of Eskom and poor

The impact of the price increase on the economy had been considered in addition to guidance from the President’s State of the Nation Address in which he requested Eskom to consider a price path which would ensure that Eskom and the industry remained financially viable and sustainable, but which remained affordable especially for the poor. Dames said he believed that Eskom’s application achieved an appropriate balance.

In addressing the impact of price increases, Dames said that Eskom believed that poor households should be protected from the impact of electricity price increases through targeted, transparent cross-subsidisation in accordance with a national cross-subsidy framework.

A failure to achieve cost-reflective prices would sooner rather than later impact on South Africa’s economy and its growth prospects, he said.

MPs query what electricity giant has as objective

A number of opposition MPs disagreed and queried the entire cost-reflective process used by Eskom, saying that the tariffs proposed by Eskom rather posed a dangerous threat to economic growth and the future of business in South Africa, as well as job creation.

Whilst Eskom wanted a 4% targeted return in the medium term and 8% in the final year, they said, JSE majors had returned on average 6.6% per year in the last ten years. They asked if Eskom was attempting to build a balance sheet that compared with global corporates just in order to get loans.

The main thrust of certain opposition MPs queries was the sacrifice in growth rate, damage to business development, to job creation. ANC MPs complained of the effect on the poor.

Paul O’Flaherty, finance director at Eskom, said that the only sources of funding available to Eskom were debt; equity injected from Government and operating profit from its revenue. Eskom had requested for an additional equity injection from the state but that was not forthcoming leaving generation of debt to them and raising enough operating profits from its revenue.

He said in terms of depreciation factors on the figures shown, such was regulated by Nersa and that there was no way of getting around the fact that Eskom had to pay its way. According to the cash flow predictions, a trillion rand of revenue would be needed to pay for primary energy costs, employee costs and demand side management, repairs and maintenance.

Eskom must be seen as viable entity for capital programmes

Eskom’s capital program over the next five years included finishing the Kusile power station repayments, plus a further R360bn in debts, which meant that R200bn had to be raised from the market. This had to be done against a successful balance sheet. Eskom got investment status because of Government uplifting, he said. It had to show its cash metrics were moving towards a more sustainable company, he said.

Dames added that Eskom required on its equity a higher return than the sovereign because of the risk involved and in terms of the cost of debt in a normal environment and that the cost of Eskom borrowing was more expensive that the sovereign borrowing. The cost of debt had been arrived at by Eskom working with NERSA as well by as KPMG and the costs included in the MYPD 3 application were appropriate, in his opinion.

Mohamed Adam the legal representative at Eskom said on questions relating to the impact of price increases on the manufacturing sector, that the impact of price increase on the economy had been considered in addition to ensuring that both Eskom and the industry remained financially viable and sustainable, but which remained affordable especially for the poor. There was a threshold at which Eskom would also face which amounted to a tipping point if prices were too low.

Unbundling of Eskom not an option

In conclusion, Mr Dames said that the submission of the MYPD 3 application was the beginning of a public process and he rejected MPs suggestions that Eskom was a monopoly that should be broken up.    He said that any unbundling of Eskom accompanied by the introduction of private participants would fail to bring in lower prices since higher returns would be needed by private generators and distributors.

As to whether Eskom would be willing to supply certain municipal customers,  Dames said that local authorities had a constitutional right to supply the customer within their jurisdiction and  Eskom was unable to supply a number of municipal customers anyway based on their relation to the network. Also municipalities would lose revenue.

Dames said that the growth rates in the MYPD 3 submissions were lower than those required in the New Growth Path and the National Development Plan and whilst the energy reserve margin might be held in the immediate future, it would disappear if new generation capacity was not brought on line after the completion of Kusile and if there was growth. The current build programme did not address all the capacity needs of South Africa into the future.

EIUG figures do not reflect current picture

Dames, in addressing the claim by Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG) that Eskom’s costs of maintenance were higher than they should be, said a considerable quantity of EUIG’s comments were based on inaccurate figures.

Much in the way of numbers quoted by EIUG were based upon “aspirational targets achieved during the 1990s when Eskom’s power stations were a lot younger”, it was said. The constrained power system now existing did not now allow for such philosophical assumptions. There was a balance which Eskom now needed to strike in practical realities as far as keeping the lights on was concerned.

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Finance, economic, Land,Agriculture, Public utilities, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Eskom to bring up electricity increases again with Nersa

Downgrading would damage Eskom’s ability to meet infrastructure targets………..

Finance director Paul O’Flaherty of Eskom told parliamentarians on the public enterprises portfolio committee that electricity tariffs that were truly cost-related and this had to be borne in mind by the public if Eskom were to complete its R385bn power generating construction programme.

He told MPs that his organisation needed tariffs to reach a level of 90 cents per kilowatt hour in real terms by 2017 if Eskom was to pay its debt.   “We are at 60 South African cents at the moment and in real terms we need to get that up to 90 cents”, he said. According to a report in Business Day (26 June), National Treasury has received the Eskom proposal.

Each year Eskom has to approach Nersa, the electricity regulator in South Africa, for any tariff increases, usually mid-year, and O’Flaherty said Eskom hoped this year it would be able to extend the multi-year price determination (MYPD) period to five years from three to get financial certainty, and secondly to cover production costs when it approached Nersa this year.

He said erratic tariff determination over the five years leading up to 2010 saw the Kusile power plant project put on hold because Eskom “would not have been a going concern. The MYPD needs this sort of time frame for financial reasons”.

He said, “We need to constantly remind [the consumer] that Eskom has to have cost-reflective tariffs in order that our investment grade rating is sound. As we sit, we have raised R180bn in debt and we need to get to R300bn.”

He reminded parliamentarians that a good credit rating would prevent Eskom going the path of Sanral, where, he said, Moody’s had downgraded the road agency.

“I’m pleased to announce”, he said, “that 77% of our funding for Kusile is completely secured and the rest has been identified.”    However, the question of Eskom remaining a ‘going concern” covering its production costs was the issue now being faced, he noted.

O’Flaherty warned MPs that eventually, from an Eskom point of view, it had to “come  down to a further serious tariff rate discussion with Nersa” but he would not respond to MPs questions as to what tariff rate it was that he was referring to and what tariff rate it was that Eskom wanted.

Posted in Cabinet,Presidential, Electricity, Energy, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Public utilities, Trade & Industry, Uncategorized0 Comments


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