DA leader Mmusi Maimane. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency(ANA)

Johannesburg - The DA says it is approaching the courts in its bid to ensure that key municipalities under its control can buy electricity from independent power producers (IPPs) and bypass embattled power utility Eskom.

This comes as rolling power outages are expected to continue throughout the country.

On Tuesday, DA leader Mmusi Maimane, flanked by the mayors of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Cape Town, said DA-led municipalities were now pushing to procure power from IPPs.

“These rolling blackouts have a profound impact on our citizens. They have profound consequences on the hospitals and small businesses,” said Maimane.

He said he had instructed DA municipalities to write to Energy Minister Jeff Radebe - in compliance with the Electricity Regulation Act - and request permission to bypass Eskom.

Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato said his administration had already approached the Gauteng High Court after Radebe’s department did not approve its purchase of power from IPPs.

“It is behind that decision that we have lodged an application with the Gauteng High Court to take the national minister of energy to court so that he can allow the City of Cape Town to buy power directly from IPPs,” Plato said.

Plato said the city had money to buy more than the allowed 1MWh from IPPs.

“Currently it is Eskom that can buy more than 1MWh of power from IPPs. We are saying to the minister he cannot remedy the situation, and we do have the necessary budget in hand; he must allow us to do what is necessary for the benefit of our residents.”

Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba said while the city, through City Power, was licensed to buy power from producers other than Eskom, the utility frustrated the city by ordering them not to.

He said the licence, which was issued in 1995, allowed the city to draw up to 600MWh of power from Kelvin Power Station - which it owned until 2001 - and up to 140MWh from four gas turbines within the city.

He said the city received only 200MWh from the Kelvin power station, and that Eskom had slapped the metro with a letter seeking to prevent City Power from acquiring more power.

Unions have opposed the planned introduction of IPPs into Eskom’s grid as they say it will destroy jobs.

“If we are going to be held to ransom by a few unions who are ANC-aligned, at the expense of the country, we are going to not only lose jobs at Eskom, but in every sector,” said Maimane.

Political Bureau