As Jeffreys Bay braces for another week of load shedding, the question has to be asked – what is the solution for the power crises facing South Africa?
Surrounded by wind farms, it would seem to make perfect sense for the Kouga Municipality to purchase power directly from the wind farms.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane intends to present legislation in Parliament early next year to facilitate exactly this solution. Read further on what Maimane and the DA’s solution is for load shedding and Eskom.
Short Term Solutions
Breaking down Eskom’s monopoly over electricity at national government is required if we are to fix our electricity crisis in the short, medium and long term.
Currently the role of local government is simply being a distributor for our national utility’s electricity – and as Eskom has no energy, this must change.
We urgently need a solution to the current round of the energy crisis and its clear it will not come from the ANC national government. South African cities must be allowed to open the market for energy where both cities and their residents can have greater choice over how they purchase and consume energy.
The City of Cape Town, one of the most established DA governments in the country, has begun legal proceedings in the Western Cape High Court to compel the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) to enable the City to feed power produced by independent producers into the grid.
This a massive step towards energy security in the City and will mitigate against electricity cuts that hamper the economy, business, and the lives of ordinary citizens.
Given the urgency of the situation I have discussed with Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato the possibly of approaching the Judge President of the Western Cape High Court, seeking to have this declared an urgent matter. A decision on this will be announced by the Mayor in due course.
If successful in this matter, it will set a precedent that upon consideration could be implemented in DA governments across the country,
Medium Term Solutions
In the medium term, the most suitable way to fix or nation’s electricity crisis is to end Eskom’s monopoly by splitting Eskom into separate power production and distribution businesses, while simultaneously allowing cities to purchase directly from Independent Power Producers (IPPs).
The DA has a draft Bill – The Independent System and Market Operator Bill or “ISMO Bill” to achieve just that.
It goes without saying that the only way to keep the cost of electricity down for consumers is to introduce competition in the electricity market.
Our ISMO Bill aims to achieve this by legislating the creation of an entity that is financially sound; has efficient systems management; acts as an electricity trader; guides electricity supply and transmission planning; is responsible for the integrated power system; and will dispatch within this integrated system.
The Bill envisages the establishment of an independent body owned by the state tasked with buying electricity from electricity generators.
The operator will function as a wholesaler of electricity that sells electricity to distributors and customers at a wholesale tariff. ISMO will function independently to electricity generation businesses to ensure fairness between generators, encouraging competition and innovation.
A crucial objective of the Bill will be to allow metropolitan municipalities with a proven history of good financial governance and electricity reticulation management to trade with electricity generators directly, buying electricity straight from the source.
In the spirit of accountability, the processes involved with such procurement will be required to be transparent, and any agreement concluded will be required to be the result of a competitive bidding process.
Municipalities that have shown themselves to be capable of good governance will be allowed to manage their energy requirements without being dictated to by national or provincial government.
This is a major boost for consumers, businesses and entrepreneurs in South Africa’s major cities, which aligns with the DA’s “city-led growth” agenda.
We will be formally introducing this Bill to Parliament at the beginning of next year and have already begun canvassing MPs from all political parties to support this.
Without immediate intervention at Eskom, our nation’s future lies at risk. We must act at once to ensure future generations do not say to us that we failed to act when the writing was on the wall.