DA to visit Frankfort after Eskom and Nersa tries to bully town for going off grid

Issued by Kevin Mileham MP – DA Shadow Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy
05 Apr 2023 in News

Together with my colleague who serves on the Public Enterprises Portfolio, Ghaleb Cachalia MP, we will conduct an oversight visit to the town of Frankfort to get first-hand information on the efforts that the community has made to go off grid and the resultant bullying tactics by Eskom and Nersa to block the project. We also intend to inform the community of the practical steps that we will be taking to protect their right to go off-grid

According to reports, Eskom is threatening to block private power distributor, Rural Maintenance, from setting reduced loadshedding schedules for the town of Frankfort despite procuring additional solar power.

Instead of supporting Frankfort’s efforts to go off grid and lessen the load on the constrained national grid, to mitigate loadshedding,

Eskom is going after Rural Maintenance for reducing loadshedding schedules and buying electricity from four solar farms in the area and supplying it to the town. It is possible that Eskom and NERSA are not happy that Rural Maintenance is procuring the renewable power at a lower tariff than what Eskom is charging.

Faced with the reality of a collapsed Eskom, communities across the country have come together to find ways through which they can go off grid and free themselves from the escalating loadshedding crisis. Despite failing to meet the country’s power supply needs for close to 15 years, Eskom now feels threatened by these off grid initiatives and has resorted to bullying tactics to stop them from getting off the ground.

This runs contrary to policy pronouncements announced to mitigate the electricity crisis, where emphasis has been placed on increasing small embedded generation as a means of diversifying energy sources and reducing reliance on Eskom. That Eskom has seen it fit to bully the town of Frankfort into become self-reliant on power, confirms the policy discord that continues to permeate within the ANC government – where the right hand does not know what the left is doing.

With the City of Cape Town and Stellenbosch Municipality on course to become free from Eskom loadshedding, it is concerning that Eskom has already started to push pack against plans to go off grid. The DA will not allow this to stand – South Africa cannot be held to ransom by a power utility that has literally collapsed and is unable to meet power demand in the foreseeable future.

Nersa and Eskom should be making it easy, not difficult, for communities and individuals to go off grid if they have the capacity to do so.