S. African gov’t urged to address root causes of insecure energy supply

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Cape Town – The South African government has been urged to address the root causes of insecure energy supply by breaking the monopoly of state-run electricity utility Eskom.

The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Thursday gave the charge on Thursday.
Allowing independent power producers (IPPs) to generate and supply power to the national grid will secure supply and bring down the cost of electricity through competition in the energy market, DA leader John Steenhuisen.
Steenhuisen said this as rolling power blackouts continued for the eighth day.
Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe should at once sign permissions for IPPs to provide additional power to the grid via qualifying municipalities in terms of the Electricity Regulation Act, said Steenhuisen.
The DA has held Mantashe responsible for being the biggest roadblock to true energy security in South Africa, accusing him of actually causing the problems that led to the worsening power crisis which reached an unprecedented level on Monday when stage six load shedding was implemented, the highest level in history.
It is only Mantashe, who can deregulate the small scale embedded generation market, who can give municipalities the permission to purchase electricity from IPPs and who can amend schedule 2 of the Electricity Regulation Act to allow users to produce up to 10MW of electricity for their own use, according to the DA.
But the minister has failed to do so, apparently for fear of breaking Eskom’s electricity monopoly.
“If Mantashe will not do so, President Ramaphosa must instruct him to do so, or relieve him of his duties,” Steenhuisen said.
IPP projects in the Western Cape, which is administered by the DA, have generated over 3,200 jobs per year, in spite of the national government’s onerous restrictions, according to Steenhuisen.
Eskom must be immediately be split into two entities, one for generation and the other supply, the DA leader said, adding that these entities must be operated independently of each other.
More than 95 per cent of the electricity consumed in South Africa is provided by Eskom, which has been crippled by mismanagement and corruption, two major factors that have contributed to the power crisis.
“South Africa is fast running out of time to reform our energy sector, and in turn ensure a stable and affordable supply of uninterrupted energy that will attract investment, spur on economic growth and create much needed new jobs,” Steenhuisen said.
In a related development on Thursday, the City of Cape Town said it was currently seeking a legal remedy in court challenging Mantashe and the National Energy Regulator of South Africa to allow municipalities to purchase energy directly from IPPs.(Xinhua/NAN)