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Tue May 19, 2020, 07:51 AM

After Taking $3.75 Billion World Bank Loan, Eskom (SA) Now Whinging Out Of Pollution Commitments

Eskom Holdings Ltd., South Africa's biggest air polluter, is seeking to have the terms of a $3.75 billion World Bank loan changed to avoid spending money to cut emissions from one of its largest power plants. The 2010 loan is being used to partly fund the construction of the 4,764 megawatt Medupi coal-fired power plant east of Johannesburg. It contains a "legal covenant" that Eskom must install so-called flue-gas desulfurization, or FGD, equipment at the plant by 2025 to curb emissions of sulfur dioxide, according to the World Bank.

"These are internal considerations that are being discussed with our stakeholders and partners, chief of which are the World Bank and the government," Eskom said in a response to queries. "Eskom has had informal discussions with the World Bank, but no commitment or decision was made."

Eskom, which is owned by the government and produces almost all of South Africa's power, is struggling to service 454 billion rand ($25 billion) of debt and says the equipment would cost 42 billion rand. Still, the pollution the utility emits is the subject of a lawsuit that has been filed against the government and accounts for between 300 and just over 2,000 deaths a year, according to studies carried out by Eskom and independent experts.

"Any changes to FGD on Medupi would require consent with the World Bank," the lender said in a reply to questions. "We understand that Eskom may be investigating alternative solutions, however the World Bank has not received a proposal."



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