By: Siyabonga Sithole
JOHANNESBURG – On Monday mayor of Joburg Mpho Phalatse, acting chief executive of City Power Tshifularo Mashava and MMC for environment and infrastructure services, Michael Sun were some of the speakers who started the first day of Joburg's inaugural Energy Indaba at the Sandton Convention Centre.
This is where delegates and guests from the public and private sector mapped out collaborative efforts to stem the tide against power cuts with Eskom battling to provide the city with reliable energy since 2007.
Members of the Joburg city council led by the mayor implored delegates and independent power producers to raise their hands and end the city’s reliance on coal and Eskom as their primary source of energy, with the mayor saying the city would need about R26 billion to realise their dream of ending electricity problems.
Mashava said the energy indaba was an opportunity for the city and City Power to re-imagine new ways of bringing about reliable and sustainable energy generation and capacity in order to build a city of opportunities.
“Now coming to the electricity utility industry, which has been facing some of the biggest disruptions since the utility was built in 1882 by Thomas Edison who invented the light bulb.
“There are many forces driving this disruption.
“It is for this reason that we have actively participated in the industry dialogues through the many platforms we have been given,” Mashava told delegates.
Mashava said a just energy transition was important for the industry to change how it saw energy generation as the industry was faced with a trilemma of challenges which included energy security, affordability and sustainability as the key factors.
“Our customers have started moving and most of them are installing solar energy on their roof tops.
“As City Power we applaud our customers for doing that.
“We come here today to say we want to partner with them on that journey.
“We are also making a call to the private sector to also partner with us to realise energy security, " she said.
Phalatse said during her early days as the mayor, she attended to many issues and one of these was on the challenges faced by Eskom to the residents of the city.
“I realised then that just how much it would take and that we would not be able to do it alone.
“That is when this idea was spurred to invite all of you to join hands with the city,” she said.
She said even though revenue generation was the key part of energy, most of the revenue generated by the city came from being able to charge residents and customers for energy consumption, the over-reliance on Eskom as the only service provider was not conducive for a functional city.
“The reality is that our ratepayers are becoming impatient with uncertainty and if we lose them, we lose revenue.
“In any case you cannot have an economic hub that does not have adequate and uninterrupted power supply,” the mayor said.
Sun said municipalities were battling with increased demand for electricity with cable theft and infrastructure vandalism being one of the biggest headaches affecting the city adding that non payment for electricity by consumers was also high.
Sun further urged all stakeholders to come together and find innovative solutions to all these challenges.