South Africans should only expect progress with electricity generation in six months, department of energy says

Business Insider SA
  • The department of energy said it will take at least six months for there to be signs of progress in electricity generation. 
  • This after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a series of reforms to improve electricity availability. 
  • Loadshedding was predominantly to blame for South Africa’s 1.4% GDP decline at the end of 2019.
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One month since President Cyril Ramaphosa announced wide-ranging electricity generation reforms, the department of energy said it will take at least another six months for signs of progress. 

In his State of the Nation Address Address in February, Ramaphosa said the state will, among others, initiate the procurement of emergency power to deliver electricity to the grid in three months, open the fifth bid window for independent power producers (IPPs), and allow municipalities to buy power directly from IPPs.

This as the country continues to battle with rolling blackouts, or load shedding, which was predominantly to blame for a 1.4% gross domestic product (GDP) decline at the end of 2019.

Also read: Eskom outages – at 18 000MW – now 'worst I've ever seen', one Eskom source says

Minister of resources and energy spokesperson Natie Shabangu said the department is hard at work to give effect to the commitments made by Ramaphosa. 

“[However] it is envisaged that these initiatives will start yielding the desired results in the next six to 18 months,” Shabangu told Business Insider South Africa. 

He said discussions with the IPPs are at an advanced stage with regards to required changes to the already agreed on contractual arrangements of Window 4 projects. 

Shabangu said a deputy director-general has also been appointed to lead a working group to deal with hurdles in private generation projects registered at the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa). 

All private generation projects above 1MW have to be registered at Nersa. 

Also read: Gwede Mantashe is punting an Eskom plan that would see the government sell everything except high-voltage transmission lines

The department will also soon publish regulations for public comment to enable municipalities in good financial standing to procure or develop their own power generation, Shabangu said. 

The City of Cape Town has taken the department to court after asking it since 2017 to allow the city to procure its own electricity. 

Minister of resources and energy Gwede Mantashe said the department will oppose the bid, asking the city to instead talk to the department.

Eskom implemented stage 4 load shedding on Tuesday after a unit tripped at the Koeberg nuclear power station in Cape Town. 

Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter previously said that it would take 18  months to deal with plant performance issues before the situation improves. 

Natie said the initiatives by the department in the form of additional generation capacity, generation for own use, and municipalities generating own power are meant to supplement supply from Eskom. 

“We wish to assure the public that work is progressing as speedily as possible, taking into account the applicable laws and processes,” he said.