Mon, 21 Jan 2019
25
Johannesburg

Democractic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane says there is a need for independent power producers to play a role as South Africa's electricity crisis deepens with Eskom.

Speaking after a two-day sitting of the DA's Federal Executive, Maimane said Eskom's monopoly over electricity had to end, he said. He suggested allowing local government to do more.

"Currently the role of local government is simply being a distributor for our national utility's electricity - and as Eskom has no energy, this must change," Maimane said.

"South African cities must be allowed to open the market for energy where both cities and their residents can have greater choice over how they purchase and consume energy."

READ: Load shedding hits SA's small businesses hard

He said the party had begun legal proceedings in the Western Cape High Court to compel the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) to allow the City of Cape Town to source independent power.

"This is a massive step towards energy security in the City and will mitigate against electricity cuts that hamper the economy, business, and the lives of ordinary citizens."

He said that given the urgency of the situation, the party would consider approaching the Judge President of the Western Cape High Court, seeking it be declared an urgent matter.

"A decision on this will be announced by Mayor Dan Plato in due course. If successful in this matter, it will set a precedent that upon consideration could be implemented in DA governments across the country."

Maimane said the DA compiled a draft bill called the Independent System and Market Operator (ISMO) Bill to achieve this.

"It goes without saying that the only way to keep the cost of electricity down for consumers is to introduce competition in the electricity market."

He said the bill envisages the establishment of an independent body owned by the state tasked with buying electricity from electricity generators.

"The operator will function as a wholesaler of electricity that sells electricity to distributors and customers at a wholesale tariff. ISMO will function independently to electricity generation businesses to ensure fairness between generators, encouraging competition and innovation."

Maimane said that a crucial objective of the bill would be to allow metropolitan municipalities with a proven history of good financial governance and electricity reticulation management, to trade with electricity generators directly, buying electricity straight from the source.

It would also ensure they weren't "dictated to by national or provincial goverment".

"In the spirit of accountability, the processes involved with such procurement will be required to be transparent, and any agreement concluded will be required to be the result of a competitive bidding process."

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