26 March 2019

South Africa: Cities Hold the Key to a Sustainable Electricity Supply

opinion

Cities lie at the heart of South Africa's electricity woes -- but their potential to be part of the solution is being overlooked.

During the latest spate of extreme load shedding, much has been written about an imploding Eskom hobbled by financial woes, State Capture and mismanagement; similarly, the pain that load shedding has inflicted on small- and medium-sized businesses and households. However, very little has been said about the myriad ways that load shedding impacts on municipalities and the missed opportunity to empower our cities for a new energy future.

Load shedding impacts directly on municipal revenue from electricity sales used for the maintenance of electricity infrastructure, the cross-subsidisation of poor households and other services not covered by water charges and rates. This revenue is critical for the efficient functioning of municipalities and their financial sustainability.

The rolling blackouts have also stimulated increased demand for solar panels and batteries. While this is positive from an energy security and climate perspective, the increased uptake of own generation has the potential to erode municipal revenue from electricity even further.

Notably, load shedding not only impacts on the provision of electricity services, but also affects other municipal services. Rand Water has warned...

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