Cape Town - In an open letter to Capetonians, Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis provided an update on the events of the past week and what needed to happen as the City braced itself for another difficult week dealing with the severity of load shedding.
“In Cape Town, we are doing all we can to protect residents from the full impact of load shedding. We are using our Steenbras Hydro Electric System to near maximum capacity, but we do need to keep some in reserve, in the event that load shedding gets even worse,” Hill-Lewis said.
Hill-Lewis said this system still had its limits and if stage 6 remained in place for most of the week again, the lower reservoir would fill up, and there would not be enough time to pump water up fast enough to drain the reservoir and keep the turbines producing electricity. He said the severity of the load shedding meant infrastructure was also taking a real beating.
Water and sanitation mayoral committee member Zahid Badroodien said: “This equipment is simply not designed to be switched off and on with such regularity, nor do they contain batteries that are able to provide power for more than 10 hours per day. Some of our infrastructure is under strain after this prolonged period of load shedding, and there are sporadic reports of problems with sewage infrastructure, which severely affects our operations.”
Hill-Lewis reiterated that the electricity crisis underscored just how necessary and urgent it was to reduce reliance on Eskom and end load shedding in Cape Town.
Energy mayoral committee member Beverley van Reenen said progress was being made in the City’s own build, small-scale embedded generation, wheeling and independent power producer programmes.
“We are also in the process of building our own solar photovoltaic plant in Atlantis, which will have a similar effect in terms of the reliability and affordability of our energy supply,” Van Reenan said.
However, Judy-Ann Stevens, acting spokesperson for the ANC caucus in the city council, said the City’s endeavour to reduce its reliance on Eskom was based on a push for profit in the private hands of the owners of IPP stakeholders.
Stop CoCT founder Sandra Dickson said: “The City stated numerous times that they want to be independent from Eskom. Vast amounts and effort had been spent by the City on this goal which, unfortunately, was done under a cloak of non-transparency – which leaves the ratepayers to guess what benefits will be forthcoming.”
Dickson said the biggest concern was the additional costs to fund these projects and what they would do to future tariff increases and surcharges that the City will add to the already hefty tariffs, surcharge and fixed levy. At no stage were residents consulted to solicit their preferred solution.