Yesterday’s decision by the Stellenbosch Municipal Council to explore options to obtain electricity independence from the dysfunctional and failing Eskom monopoly must be lauded and become best practice for well-run municipalities across South Africa.
The amendment of schedule 2 of the Electricity Regulation Act in October last year allows municipalities in good financial standing to build their own capacity to generate electricity or procure from independent power producers (IPPs) – subject to ministerial approval. And therein lies the rub: Minister Mantashe has been slow to act and has demonstrated an extreme unwillingness to facilitate such decisions.
Stellenbosch has taken the decision to obtain expert advice and build a comprehensive feasibility study for such energy security. It will permit the municipality, in the very short term, to either enter into negotiations with IPPs to purchase power directly or to build their own generation facilities. This is vital in order to alleviate the economic impacts of loadshedding, and will make the municipality an even more attractive investment destination.
A decision of this nature requires visionary leadership, technical excellence and strong financial and corporate management. Sadly, most of South Africa’s municipalities do not have such capabilities, and it is by and large only DA-led local governments that will be able to utilize this opportunity.
The DA will continue to push for our electricity infrastructure (and in particular the national grid) to be opened to allow competition in the electricity generation sector. It is only through multiple sources of supply that we will be able to #KeepTheLightsOn.
Click here to read more about the DA’s plan to drive the cost of electricity down, introduce competition into the energy sector, and diversify the country’s energy sources to introduce more renewables, as well as our record of action on the electricity crisis over the last 8 years.