Energy summit planned for KZN

THE KwaZulu-Natal government and department of energy will hold an energy summit later this year to address backlogs in the supply of electricity to the province.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize met Energy Minister Dipuo Peters yesterday to discuss an electrification programme aimed at addressing the backlog, particularly in the province's rural areas.

At present 24percent of the areas without electricity in South Africa are in KwaZulu-Natal, which, together with Eastern Cape and Limpopo, make up 80percent of the nation's backlog.

About 1100 schools in KwaZulu-Natal are currently without electricity, hindering their capacity to provide quality education.

Mkhize said the summit would look at developing an electrification programme and creating sustainable energy from solar, bio-fuels and water turbines, among others.

The summit would also look at tariffs, regulation and environmental impacts, which are believed to be preventing private operators from generating power and selling it to Eskom.

"We need to identify the issues and the policy incentives we can offer in order to assist private operators in selling power to Eskom in a sustainable manner to avoid loss of investments," Mkhize added.

Methods of power production, including bio-fuels, gas from animal waste and solar energy, would also be discussed.

Peters said she had assured Mkhize's cabinet that there would be no interruption of the power supply to the province during the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

She said the electrification plan would cover key areas identified by the province. This would assist in the economic development of both urban and rural KwaZulu-Natal.