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Pretoria West station approved for 40-year lease

The power station has not been operational since 2012.

Pretoria West residents could see some of their electricity burdens eased after the Tshwane council announced the 40-year lease of Rooiwal and Pretoria West power stations late last month.

The coal-fired power plant, which was built in 1952, has not been operational since 2012 despite costing the metro hundreds of millions a year, according to mayor Cilliers Brink.

“Council approval is one of the six steps to get the two power stations running again. It marks a major milestone in moving Tshwane closer to energy independence and stabilising the electricity supply to communities,” Brink said.

“As part of our master energy plan, over the next three years, the city is working towards securing at least 1 000 MW of alternative energy. This has occasioned the need for the city to engage with independent power producers (IPPs) and open up opportunities for alternative energy production.”

Brink said the Tshwane energy task team has been established to focus on the following:

– Secure the energy baseload independent of Eskom and develop an energy plan that will be informed by scientific recommendations for renewable energy technologies that are suitable for the city, as prescribed in the council-approved climate action plan.

– Enable the policy, legal and regulatory frameworks to finalise the embedded generation policy.

– Reduce electricity demand, starting with the metro-owned buildings.

– Ensure energy resilience in the face of disasters such as severe load-shedding or blackouts.

City manager Johan Mettler is expected to appoint a team of advisers to ensure the lease is carried out.

From September 12 to October 31 last year, the metro hosted public participation sessions on the upgrades.

“Tshwane residents should be proud of this progressive step because every time higher stages of load-shedding hit us, it destroys our infrastructure, leads to prolonged outages and frustration, and creates opportunities for cable theft. That is why this project to move in a different direction is so important for our future,” Brink said.

Rekord caught up with locals for their take on the matter.

“I’m exceptionally excited knowing that this is much-needed progress for residents of Pretoria. We have endured so many electricity outages and this will definitely bring much-needed relief,” said ward 54 councillor Elma Nel.

Lotus Gardens, Atteridgeville and Sauslvile Civic Association chairperson, Tshepo Mahlangu feel this is just another blatant contradiction by the metro in their political rhetoric.

“We were made to understand that the city is cash-strapped, so the million-dollar question should be: where will the city get the money to refurbish Pretoria West power station? Secondly, when the mayor says, they had successful public participation sessions, who is he referring to? Which public did they consult with these dodgy dealings?” Mahlangu said.

Lasca residents have been particularly vocal against the metro. In a demonstration late last month, one of the group’s main gripes was the Tshwane YaTima campaign, an effort by the metro to disconnect electricity from non-paying households.

Aerial view of the Pretoria West power station. Photo: X/CityTshwane)

Lasca believes that it’s merely a tactic to target poor residents.

“The residents won’t benefit, instead they are going to struggle more in future. There are no known regulations on IPPs. Prices will be fixed and townships will bear the brunt,” Mahlangu said.

Saulsville resident Itumeleng Mombezi believes that the upgrades will benefit the west residents and businesses.

“Upgrading the Pretoria West station will assist the residents of and entities around the west of Pretoria. Maybe load-shedding stages will decrease. Pretoria West has a lot of firms and hospitals, which encounter load-shedding daily,” Mombezi said.

Proclamation Hill resident Sonja Theron is hopeful at the prospect of the upgrade but has little faith in the metro to carry it out. She said power struggles are nothing new to her area and the metro’s ability to handle them leaves much to be desired.

“Just this week there was a power failure due to cable theft that left us without power for days. We had to take my meat to my son’s place to put in his deep freezer to salvage what we got. Everyone in Proclamation Hill is in the same boat. They keep telling us ‘there’s not enough cables’, ‘there’s not enough workers’ and so on. This is a problem with the city council and it is pathetic,” Theron said.

Brink reiterated that the leasing process will not favour any specific energy provider and will be managed in a transparent, competitive, and fair manner.

“I look forward to announcing other initiatives as part of our energy plan to reduce the city’s dependence on Eskom and alleviate the burden of load-shedding for all our residents,” Brink concluded.

[VIDEO] Tshwane Mayor Cilliers Brink- Key items on today’s Council Meeting include the report on leasing Rooiwal and PTA West power stations. We’ve received positive feedback during the public participation process. We want to reduce our reliance on Eskom.

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