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'Disturbing' new proposals doing the rounds to address the electricity challenges in SA

Residential solar panels in Durbanville. File Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Residential solar panels in Durbanville. File Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jul 21, 2022

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Cape Town - A second Eskom and a fixed tariff for those using solar energy were some of the jaw-dropping proposals doing the rounds that had consumers gobsmacked.

Eskom denied the proposal for a fixed tariff of R938 was designed to discourage people from using alternative energy sources. The idea of a second Eskom came from none other than Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe.

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At the last SACP conference, President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed that in dealing with the country’s energy crisis, Mantashe suggested that another state-owned entity might be the answer to the energy struggle.

When asked for more information, Mantashe’s spokesperson, Nathi Shabangu, said: “It would be difficult for the department to share information or plans on a possible establishment of a state-owned entity in respect of electricity generation as the discussions are at an early stage.”

Western Cape Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell said the proposals to address the electricity challenges in South Africa were “disturbing, out of touch with the real challenges and how to solve them”.

“The idea of creating a second Eskom, when you cannot fix the first one, simply makes no sense. We should support Eskom to restructure so it can focus on the upgrade and maintenance of the grid. We now need to trust the private sector and its ability to bring the finance and expertise to quickly bring new generation online,” Bredell said.

He was also critical of another proposal that Eskom sought to restructure its funding model to have a fixed tariff that increases as a household uses less electricity. A household that was self-generating and used very little Eskom power could mean a new fee of R938 a month, according to this new proposal.

“How can this be seriously entertained in a time when households should be encouraged and incentivised to use less Eskom power in order to protect the grid?”

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However, energy analyst and EE Business Intelligence managing director Chris Yelland said the separation of fixed and variable costs in electricity tariffs to ensure cost reflectivity was relevant, in principle, for all customers – small, medium and large, on prepayment and credit-metering systems.

“This included domestic, commercial, industrial, mining, transportation and agricultural customers, with and without solar PV and battery energy storage systems.

Regarding the energy situation, a spokesperson from the Koeberg Alert Alliance, Peter Becker, said a group of civil society and environmental justice organisations wrote a letter to the president in which they appealed for urgent action regarding the crisis and for additional electricity generation capacity.

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These organisations included the Centre for Environmental Rights, Extinction Rebellion Cape Town, Greenpeace Africa and Just Share and Section 27.

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Cape Argus

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