The ANC decided at its annual lekgotla to block the Independent System Market Operator (ISMO) Bill, Business Day reported on 2 February 2015.
According to energy experts, among the changes the ISMO Bill would have introduced is the removal of Eskom’s control over access to the grid.
This would have helped level the playing field for independent power producers (IPPs), and enabled them to contribute electricity to South Africa’s grid.
Business Day quoted ANC economic transformation committee chairman Enoch Godongwana as saying that there continues to be a debate over the structure of the industry.
However, the newspaper also reported that many in the ANC are reluctant to break up Eskom, as the transmission side of the business is the most profitable.
Energy expert and managing director of EE Publishers Chris Yelland described the decision from the ANC as “disturbing” in an interview with Fin24.
“Now we hear… that [the ANC] sees the introduction of this bill as a precursor to the unbundling of Eskom by separating it into generation, transmission, and distribution units; and ideologically it seems that that is unacceptable,” Yelland said.
He said the move will inhibit IPPs from coming to the table, and help maintain the status quo of a vertically-integrated monopoly that is serving South Africa very badly at the moment.
“So for all the wrong reasons they are doing the wrong thing,” Yelland said.
Following the report in Business Day, Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille said that a number of steps must be followed to end South Africa’s electricity crisis:
- Recognise that the biggest threat to a stable and steady supply of electricity in South Africa is Eskom. “Either we break the Eskom monopoly, or it breaks us.”
- Re-look our ideal energy mix, taking the fast-changing energy landscape into account. “By this, I mean a far, far greater allocation to renewable energy sources.”
- Abandon the R1 trillion nuclear deal.
- The Eskom executive must return the “absurd performance bonuses” paid out to them.