The City of Cape Town prepares its legal battle to be allowed to source 20% of its electricity supply from independent producers. File picture: Independent Media
Cape Town – Renewable power looks set to be new Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi’s first major hurdle, as the City of Cape Town prepares to take its fight, to be allowed to source 20% of its electricity supply from independent producers, to court.

Kubayi stepped into the role formerly occupied by Tina Joemat-Pettersson, who was sacked by President Jacob Zuma in a cabinet shake-up last month.

Joemat-Pettersson had previously stonewalled the city's ambitions to be able to contract alternative energy suppliers, forcing the municipality to rely on Eskom for most of its power supply.

Mayor Patricia de Lille this week told the Cape Town Climate Change Coalition, the city was ready for the court battle.

“The city's Energy 2040 Goal, which models a more resilient, resource-efficient and equitable future for Cape Town, commits the city to diversifying Cape Town's energy supply and reducing carbon emissions,” De Lille said.

“Central to this will be the ability to source 20% of energy from renewable sources by 2020.”

The Energy Department, at the behest of Joemat-Pettersson, had previously said it would need to consult the national energy regulator before making a decision.

De Lille said the city wanted to transform the energy landscape, “where we will no longer merely just be distributors of electricity, but we will also generate our own clean energy."

“We want Capetonians to have a greater choice over how they consume energy and the price they pay for it. We intend to contract with independent power producers (IPPs) of renewable energy and will pursue this relentlessly, using all available means with national government to ensure it is achieved.”

The mayor added “the best legal counsel in the country” had been briefed and would take the case.

“This will be a complex legal battle, but it must be understood that we are doing this not just because we want to buy electricity from IPPs, but because we believe that the whole institutional regime governing energy in the country is completely outdated and needs to be reformed."

“Hopefully with the City of Cape Town taking on this legal battle, it will be the start of just such a reform.”

Mayoral spokesperson Zara Nicholson added: “We obviously want to move as quickly as possible on this, but at the same time we have to make sure that we have followed all the necessary protocols and processes between the two spheres of government, so as to not jeopardise our legal case on procedural grounds."

“It is therefore difficult to state categorically when we intend to go to court, but we should have greater clarity in that regard within the next week or so.”

Cape Argus