South Africa: Renewable Energy Must Become a Public Good

(file photo).

Three international energy research organisations have worked with Eskom trade unions to compile a report, Eskom Transformed: Achieving a Just Energy Transition for South Africa. This is the second of a three-part series on the analysis contained in the report, as well as proposed strategies for SA's energy sector. The researchers argue that unbundling Eskom will only intensify its crises.

No one needs reminding that the only thing Eskom seems to excel at is the generation of crises. The utility has become synonymous with regular load shedding, Gauteng's continual "load reduction", enormous greenhouse gas emissions, an enormous debt burden, and steadily increasing electricity tariffs.

Guided by the policy prescriptions of big business, the state has devised a solution to these multiple crises - a process of "unbundling" the utility into three separate entities: generation, transmission, and distribution. But rather than addressing the crises of Eskom, unbundling will serve only to intensify them, further entrenching the devastation that has been caused by the corporatisation of the utility. To truly address the crises, the utility must be decorporatised and restructured as a not-for-profit public utility.

While many commentators have applauded the plans for unbundling, no less than the World Bank has recently...

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