Herman Mashaba wants independent Kelvin power plant to help counter load-shedding

Herman Mashaba wants to strike a deal with Kelvin power station to help Joburg during load-shedding.
Herman Mashaba wants to strike a deal with Kelvin power station to help Joburg during load-shedding.
Image: Sunday Times

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba wants help to deal with load-shedding in his metro - and has turned to the independently operated Kelvin power station for help.

The mayor announced on Wednesday that his team was in contact with the power station to see whether a contract could be negotiated which would see the station increasing its output and selling excess power to the city at a cheaper rate than Eskom.

Mashaba made this comment shortly after Eskom announced there was going to be load-shedding from Wednesday morning.

Mashaba said the city had not been warned about Eskom’s rotational power cuts, and had been unable to warns residents and businesses about it.

He expressed his frustration that Joburg was unable to procure independent power from Kelvin - and that the latest round of load-shedding demonstrated the need for cities to develop alternative forms of power production.

Mashaba said that in December 2018, Eskom told the municipality that the city could not offset its load-shedding requirements by getting power independently generated from Kelvin.

Mashaba said the city had in the past been contracted to procure additional electricity from Kelvin as and when required.

However, this doesn't appear to be supported by the Electricity Regulation Act, which gives the minister of energy the power to determine the need for new generation capacity and to take the initiative for its procurement.

SA Independent Power Producers' Association general secretary Dave Long said laws and regulations did not allow for independent power producers (IPPs) to supply power directly to municipalities.

"Legally, one must hold a generation licence to produce electricity of over one megawatt," Long said.

Long said the law stated that the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) can only grant a generation licence in terms of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), a 20-to-30-year national plan which sets out the electricity source mix for the future.

Long said the last plan was published in 2011.

"Despite all the problems the country is facing, there has not been an IRP since then," he said.

Long said the current IPPs contracted under the current Renewable Energy Power Producer Procurement Programme were selling as much as they could produce to Eskom.

Long said the government should publish the IRP as soon as possible.

"Everybody has been holding back, waiting for the IRP," Long said.

Long said the short-term solution to the electricity supply problem was for the government to allow Nersa powers to grant power-generation licences to private power producers.

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