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By Editorial staff

Journalist


Some light in the dark Eskom tunnel

Ramaphosa increased the generation threshold for companies to produce electricity without a licence.


President Cyril Ramaphosa’s surprise announcement this week to open up power generation to private operators is encouraging, but we shouldn’t be running through the house flicking up all the light switches yet. The president increased the generation threshold for companies to produce electricity without a licence from one megawatt (MW) to 100MW in a bid to ease the burden on the wounded Eskom as the country battles yet another wave of load shedding. Private generators will be allowed to do so without requiring a licence from the National Energy Regulator of South Africa, but will still have to apply for…

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President Cyril Ramaphosa’s surprise announcement this week to open up power generation to private operators is encouraging, but we shouldn’t be running through the house flicking up all the light switches yet.

The president increased the generation threshold for companies to produce electricity without a licence from one megawatt (MW) to 100MW in a bid to ease the burden on the wounded Eskom as the country battles yet another wave of load shedding.

Private generators will be allowed to do so without requiring a licence from the National Energy Regulator of South Africa, but will still have to apply for permits.

ALSO READ: Even with private power, SA’s electricity problems will take time to fix

Ramaphosa said: “On the generation side, it is always good to have competition: that is what is happening in other countries that we have looked at and studied.”

He added: “Even in a country like China, they have a number of generators that compete [and] give consumers price-competitive offerings. Efficiency is enhanced and every generator is then kept on their toes to make sure that they offer the best service. Our ability to address the energy crisis swiftly and comprehensively will determine the pace of our economic recovery.”

Ramaphosa’s decision still has to be gazetted. Then permits need to be processed and then applications have to be lodged in approaching the various municipalities. And after all of that, experts believe it will take a few years for us to see a difference, or for the decision to actually make an impact.

From past experience, we know how tardy government’s ability to adopt new systems can be. One just has to look at its procurement, or lack thereof, of the Covid-19 vaccines.

Government’s failure to secure the vaccines early has had a huge knock-on effect, with only a small percentage of people having received their jabs. We are now a long way behind our conservative targets.

The confusion of load shedding this week has taken the public to new lows. We suppose any news is good news, no matter how sceptical we remain.

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