5 March 2013

South Africa: Blackouts Must Be Avoided At All Cost

press release

Minister Malusi Gigaba must appear before Parliament and outline his strategy on how he intends to prevent blackouts similar to those in 2008, after reports today reveal that Eskom is scrambling to meet the country's energy demand.

The 'power scramble' is due to a string of issues currently hampering our power supply and requires urgent action by Minister Malusi Gigaba and Eskom executives.

I will therefore be writing to the chairman of the Portfolio committee on Public Enterprises, Holmes Maluleka, to request that he call on Minister Gigaba to appear before Parliament together with Eskom CEO Brian Dames and financial director Paul O'Flaherty. They need to explain what is being done to address the construction delays at the Medupi Power Station and how they plan to increase capacity and manage demand to avoid electricity blackouts.

Apart from wanting to buy back an additional 1 000 megawatts from big industries, Eskom does not appear to have any other solution to the matter.

Eskom has blamed the looming supply pinch on the eight percent increase awarded by Nersa, which falls far short of its preferred 16 percent. It is becoming increasingly critical that Minister Gigaba explore other options to boost capacity, such as allowing Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to enter the market and ease the burden on the state entity.

Furthermore, the R120 billion Medupi project needs to be completed by the end of this year as planned. This will help to ensure a more steady energy supply, which the country is currently lacking.

We cannot afford a repeat of the 2008 blackouts. This will impact severely on the economy, slowing down production and leading to an inevitable shedding of jobs.

Natasha Michael, Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises

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