Civil society and politicians are applying pressure on the newly formed Department of Minerals and Energy to introduce private electricity supply alternatives. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso/ African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Civil society and politicians are applying pressure on the newly formed Department of Minerals and Energy to act swiftly to facilitate the introduction of private electricity supply alternatives in a bid to sort out South Africa’s energy woes.

In separate statements issued on the same day, both Greenpeace Africa and Premier Alan Winde urged Minister Gwede Mantashe to unlock whatever obstacles remained in the way of the revised Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) that was published last year.

The IRP is an electricity capacity plan which aims to provide an indication of the country’s electricity demand, how this demand will be supplied and what it will cost.

While congratulating the minister on his new role, Greenpeace Africa’s senior political adviser Happy Khambule said: “We call on (Mantashe) to abandon his previous defence of the dead-end coal industry and instead focus on finally finalising the IRP and maximising on the opportunities offered by renewable energy.”

Winde said: “South Africa is also currently facing an energy crisis that is causing serious harm to our economic prospects and our ability to create jobs.”

He said the minister must “sign off the revised IRP which will allow for the next round of bidding by independent power producers to supply power at an agreed price to take place”.

Winde went a step further and said Mantashe must “authorise municipalities to buy electricity directly from IPPs, which will encourage the diversification of our energy supply system and reduce our reliance on Eskom”.

Khambule added: “The country’s electricity plan must be finalised without any further delay and needs to include a coal phase-out roadmap and initiate a deeper, faster transition from coal to renewable energies.”

In March, Mantashe’s predecessor Jeff Radebe was reported to have indicated that he might use his legislative powers to facilitate the introduction of private electricity supply alternatives, to reduce the threat of load shedding by Eskom in the short to medium term. According to reports, Radebe also revealed that he had approached the IPP office to remove obstacles to the development of projects bid in 2015, as part of the so-called Expedited Bid Window of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme.

In terms of the Electricity Regulation Act, No 4 of 2006, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa is required to issue rules designed to implement the IRP.

@MwangiGithahu

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Cape Argus