Some fear the new power regulations announced by Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe will widen the divide between the haves and the have nots. Picture: Neil Hall/ Reuters
Some fear the new power regulations announced by Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe will widen the divide between the haves and the have nots. Picture: Neil Hall/ Reuters

You may soon be able to buy power generated by your local municipality

By Mwangi Githathu Time of article published Oct 19, 2020

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Cape Town - You may soon be able to buy power generated by your local municipality after Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe opened the way for “municipalities in good financial standing to develop their own power-generation projects”.

However, some fear the power game changer will widen the divide between the haves and the have nots.

Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC David Maynier said: “The Western Cape is well placed to benefit from these new regulations as only municipalities in good financial standing are eligible to participate.

“One indication of good governance and good financial standing are audit results, and in the Western Cape 13 of our 30 municipalities (Metropolitan, District and Local municipalities) were recently awarded clean audits, while 14 received unqualified audits,” said Maynier.

“Meanwhile, our Municipal Energy Resilience (MER) Project is aimed at strengthening the energy resilience of municipalities in the Western Cape.”

However, provincial EFF spokesperson on Economic Opportunities Nosipho Makamba-Botya said: “We are now entering a terrain where Eskom seeks to abandon its obligation to produce power altogether and delegate this obligation to the hands of the few well-financed municipalities.

“Over time these IPPs will become the main generators of electricity. In this way electricity generation and supply will be privatised and price will be determined by these capitalists.

“Only the rich will afford the ever increasing price of electricity, while the poor in townships and informal settlements will be left in the dark.”

ANC provincial Economic Opportunities spokesperson Nomi Nkondlo said: “Municipalities have been hardest hit and such a policy position creates the enabling environment to attract much-needed investment to revive local economies.

“The dilemma though is what will be defined as a ‘municipality in good financial standing’?

Good secretary-general Brett Herron said: “The new energy regulations create opportunities for energy security, new generation capacity, and jobs, and the minister must commit to fast-track applications.”

Standing Committee on Finance, Economic Opportunity chairperson Deidré Baartman said: “This announcement further offers the renewable energy sector a boost in investment and development prospects, which may stimulate growth and create jobs.

“This is critical in an economy which has already seen more than 2.2million jobs lost in the last quarter.”

Political analyst Ntsikelelo Breakfast said: “There will be those who criticise the move as a neo-liberal one which will cause job losses. The unions, for instance, won’t support it, but really the government was in a position where it had no choice but to take action.”

Nehawu national spokesperson Khaya Xaba said: “The national union will fight tooth and nail against the use of workers’ pension funds to finance the deregulation of the energy sector, unbundling of Eskom, and finally its privatisation.”

Cape Argus

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