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    Unwelcome return of load shedding gives urgency to CoCT’s search for power alternatives


    June 22, 2022 - Mwangi Githahu

     

      Cape Town - The return of load shedding, as announced by Eskom on Monday, has made the Province’s plans to mitigate power shortages more urgent.

      Eskom said on Monday that it would implement Stage 2 load shedding, from 5pm to 10pm each evening, until tomorrow, June 23. However, on Wednesday, Eskom said that Stage 2 load shedding is expected to continue until Sunday as a result of the breakdown of four generation units.

      Absa economist Peter Worthington said: “We believe the risk of load shedding will remain elevated until the distributed generation projects and Eskom’s new renewable energy procurements start coming online from the end of 2023 onwards.”

      In a written response to a query from MPL Gillion Bosman (DA), Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC Mireille Wenger said the electricity shortfall in the Western Cape is estimated at between 360 and 660MW.

      “However, thanks to the provincial government’s municipal energy resilience (MER) initiative, municipalities are being empowered to procure electricity from independent power producers to be added to their local grids,” said Wenger.

      The City is one of the municipalities in the Western Cape that is aggressively pursuing its independent power procurement (IPP) programme.

      Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said: “Our independent power producer (IPP) procurement programme is under way and will provide further relief when finished.”

      IPPs will not only increase the amount of power available to our grid, but will also offer energy at rates cheaper than Eskom’s. These savings will be passed on to our customers, bringing the cost of electricity in Cape Town down over time.

      “The first round of bidding in the city’s IPP procurement will close this month, after which we will move through the complex legal work of selecting preferred bidders, negotiating pricing, and awarding tenders,” said Hill-Lewis.

      He said the City would expedite the process as much as possible within the complex legal framework that governs municipal procurement, and that the first of these projects would only begin providing load-shedding relief over the medium term.

      Load-shedding update 22 June 2022

      Eskom’s load-shedding Stage 2 is active today from 10:00 until 00:00 tonight. From tomorrow, 23 June, until Sunday, 26 June, Stage 2 will be active from 05:00 until midnight.

      City customers will also be on Stage 2 until further notice.#CTInfo pic.twitter.com/RaWI6oIauz

      City of Cape Town (@CityofCT) June 22, 2022

      In the meantime, the City was looking at two “stopgap” strategies for load shedding mitigation. These include demand-side management, which is premised on the fact that residents would rather have some electricity (for lights and cooking, for example) during load shedding periods, than none at all.

      The second mitigation strategy is wheeling, which is where a private generator “transports” energy to a private user, using a public distribution network, allowing private generators to sell energy to large users – such as shopping centres and factories.

      He said the City was in the process of building its own solar photovoltaic plant in Atlantis, which will have a similar effect in terms of the reliability and affordability of the Mother City’s energy supply.

      As to money being invested in mitigating load shedding, Mayco member for energy Beverley van Reenen said R22.6 million had been set aside to get the wheels in motion for independent generation and procurement.

      “Some R50 million has also been added to the 2022/23 capital budget to progress the development of the Atlantis Photovoltaic plant,” said Van Reenen.

      mwangi.githahu@inl.co.za

      Cape Argus

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