For months now, the City of Cape Town has been fighting to provide its residents with uninterrupted electricity. Rolling blackouts over the past week have left Capetonians frustrated at being left in the dark as Eskom has implemented various stages of load shedding to prevent the national electrical grid from collapsing.
In a statement, the City announced that it intends to seek permission from the Judge President of the Gauteng High Court to appeal to the Minister of Energy, Jeff Radebe, along with the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa). The City has a plan to purchase electricity directly from Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to ensure all its residents have electricity at all times.
“The City is fighting for the right to buy cleaner energy directly from IPPs and to improve energy security. This move comes as the energy crisis in South Africa has reached a new peak,” said Ian Neilson, Deputy Executive Mayor of Cape Town, in a statement. “The City’s legal team is liaising with the legal teams of the other parties to the matter with a view to approaching the Judge President with mutually agreeable dates for an earlier hearing. The matter is currently scheduled to be heard in the Gauteng High Court in May 2020.”
“We note that this matter turns on the lack of NERSA and the Minister being able to reach agreement on the legal framework to allow for the issuing of a license to the City to purchase renewable energy from IPPs,” he added. “Should an agreement be reached on this aspect before the proposed original date for the hearing of the matter, it will not only enable the City to move forward with its plans sooner but it will also mean that litigation in this matter is not required.”
Neilson has also reassured Capetonians that it will continue to do everything possible to pursue a positive outcome.
“Metros simply must be the energy champions of their residents and of their commercial sector players,” he added. “The City maintains that it will be vital for the national government to open up the electricity generation environment if we are to restore [the] security of power supply. We simply cannot afford the devastation that load-shedding has had on our economy as a city and as a country.”
According to the Deputy Mayor, it is vital that Cape Town is “future-proofed” to ensure that security of supply and cleaner supply is enhanced. Therefore, the City wants a Section 34 determination – in accordance with the New Generation Capacity Regulations in the Electricity Regulation Act – to allow it to procure 150 MW of solar energy and 280 MW of wind energy from IPPs.
“While it will take time to procure this new capacity, the City wants to begin working on these alternatives as soon as possible,” Neilson added. “If successful in our court challenge, the City would opt for a public tender and solicit proposals from IPPs in the future.”