President Cyril Ramaphosa’s five point energy plan, which is centered on leveraging on Eskom’s installed generation capacity to fill the short term electricity supply gap and opening up the electricity sector to Independent Power Producers (IPPs), is straight out of the DA playbook.
While the DA welcomes the steps taken by the President to address the energy crisis, we still find it unacceptable that it took this long to take action. The DA has, for years and as recently as May, consistently called for the opening up of the grid to IPPs through red tape reduction and increased private sector investment in the electricity sector.
Now that an energy plan to address the electricity crisis has been announced, the DA will soon be launching an Energy Plan Implementation Tracker to keep Ramaphosa’s government honest on project implementation and red tape reduction milestones. The tracker will particularly hold the President accountable on the commitments made to add new generation capacity.
One area of concern from Ramaphosa’s energy plan is the formation of the so-called National Energy Crisis Committee (NECOM) composed of ‘relevant’ Ministers to oversee the implementation of the plan. South Africa simply can’t afford to have individuals such as Ministers Gwede Mantashe and Pravin Gordhan, who have repeatedly stood in the way of IPPs and private sector investment in the energy sector, lead efforts to address the loadshedding crisis.
With no portfolio committee holding the President accountable, the DA will write to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa Nqakula, recommending the establishment of a parliamentary Ah-hoc committee to oversee NECOM. It’s not clear what powers this body will decide to apportion itself, as such, it is important that Parliament steps in from the onset to keep it accountable.
For the long medium to long term, and as stated by DA Leader John Steenhuisen earlier today, Ramaphosa’s government should get out of the way of those who want to – and who are able to – fix this mess. Many of the obstacles to increased generation are self-imposed by government. Whether it’s by standing in the way of municipalities who want to procure or generate their own electricity, whether it’s through onerous regulations on small-scale generation, or any of the other counter-productive regulations around preferential procurement or local content requirement, this national government has consistently been the biggest part of the problem.
Today, the City of Cape Town announced ground breaking plans to allow commercial and industrial generators to feed as much energy as they can back to the grid. Commercial and industrial generators will now be allowed to sell more electricity to the City than they use.
The DA stands ready and willing to contribute to any genuine national effort aimed at addressing the energy crisis and get South Africa working again. The President will have our support in the implementation of the energy plan as long as he remains committed to transparent and accountable implementation of the plan with the urgency required.