Electricity Regulation Act to be amended to help unlock electricity capacity as load shedding returns - Ramaphosa
Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa says efforts are under way to assist Eskom to procure additional megawatts of electricity as the state-owned entity continues to struggle to keep the lights on.
Ramaphosa delivered his State of the Nation Address on Thursday night and said assisting Eskom to expand its energy generation capacity was a priority as part of the country’s economic recovery plans.
The country has been subjected to frequent bouts of load shedding, with the most recent having taken place on Wednesday.
The SOE was restructured into three separate units in an effort to help run the company better.
Ramaphosa said Eskom was also making progress with the maintenance of substations.
“Eskom is making substantial progress with its intensive maintenance and operational excellence programmes to improve the reliability of its coal fleet.
“We are working closely with Eskom on proposals to improve its financial position, manage its debt and reduce its dependence on the fiscus,” he said.
Eskom’s tariff path will also have to be relooked at, the president said.
Ramaphosa said the following actions had been taken by the government to assist Eskom;
* The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy will soon be announcing the successful bids for 2 000 megawatts of emergency power.
* The necessary regulations have been amended and the requirements clarified for municipalities to buy power from independent power producers. Systems are being put in place to support qualifying municipalities.
* Government will soon be initiating the procurement of an additional 11 800 megawatts of power from renewable energy, natural gas, battery storage and coal in line with the Integrated resource plan 2019.
Ramaphosa said the government would begin requesting proposals to address Eskom’s energy shortfall which is estimated at between 4 000 and 6 000 megawatts in the next five years as power stations continue to fail.
“As part of the measures to address this shortfall, we will in the coming weeks issue a request for proposals for 2 600 megawatts from wind and solar energy as part of Bid Window 5. This will be followed by another bid window in August 2021,” Ramaphosa said.
The president said Schedule 2 of the Electricity Regulation Act will be amended to help unlock “5 000 megawatts of additional capacity” and possibly help ease load shedding.
“We will therefore amend Schedule 2 of the Electricity Regulation Act within the next three months to increase the licensing threshold for embedded generation. This will include consultation among key stakeholders on the level at which the new threshold should be set and the finalisation of the necessary enabling frameworks.
“Eskom has already started work to expedite its commercial and technical processes to allow this additional capacity onto the grid without undue delay,” the president.