Minister of Mining and Energy in South Africa Gwede Mantashe. Photographer:Phando Jikelo / African News Agency (ANA)
Minister of Mining and Energy in South Africa Gwede Mantashe. Photographer:Phando Jikelo / African News Agency (ANA)

New power company idea is viable

By Siphelele Dludla Time of article published Feb 21, 2020

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Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has reiterated that the government would start an energy generating company in a bid to ensure security of energy supply for the country.

During a media briefing on energy-related matters as announced by President Cyril in the State of the Nation address, Mantashe also said this company would complement Eskom rather than compete with it.

“The idea of a new power generation capacity outside of Eskom is real,” Mantashe said. “This is not just about being competitive to Eskom, but about ensuring that there is security of energy supply to society. We are looking into all issues. The sooner it happens, the better.”

Mantashe first mooted the idea of an energy generating company outside of Eskom during the Mining Indaba earlier this month, as the state-owned power utility's operational problems threatened the economy.

But DA spokesperson on energy Kevin Mileham slammed Mantashe’s plans.

“A new generation entity is nothing more than a blatant power play by Minister Mantashe. Eskom is already more than R450 billion in debt, and spiralling closer to death every day that passes,” Mileham said.

“South Africa cannot afford more government mismanagement, corruption and incompetence in the electricity sector. We must oppose this madness at every turn.”

Ramaphosa last week announced the procurement of emergency power, the easing of requirements for generation for own use, the issuing of Section 34 Determinations, and enabling municipalities to buy their own power, as measures to address energy shortages.

Eskom on Tuesday confirmed that the country faces at least two years minimum of potential load shedding due to unavailability of the bulk of the generation plants because of unplanned breakdowns.

Mantashe said section 34 determinations had been finalised and were awaiting concurrence by the energy regulator.

He said this would also enable the opening of bid windows for renewable energy power procurement and support further investment in the sector.

“We will open window 5 as we publish section 34 determinations. It is a misnomer to think that window 5 will stop the current load shedding,” Mantashe said.

“Creating energy capacity requires a long-term plan. If we want to treat it as an instant coffee, we are going to commit mistakes.”

Meanwhile, Deputy President David Mabuza yesterday chaired the inaugural meeting of the Eskom task team at Parliament.

Mabuza said the meeting was in recognition of the fact that swift and decisive action needed to be taken to respond to the prevailing crisis of energy supply.

“The roadmap presented by Eskom gives an indication that there is now a focused approach to how we respond to this crisis,” Mabuza said.

“All relevant stakeholders must work together with speed and be focused on resolving it.”

The task team includes the ministers of Public Enterprises, Mineral Resources and Energy, Finance, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, State Security, Police, the Presidency and representatives of Eskom.

The technical team will meet weekly to assess progress being made in the implementation of measures proposed by the Eskom task team.


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