The City of Cape Town is asking the courts to allow it to buy electricity directly from independent power producers (IPPs), which, if successful, would help to prevent load-shedding for millions of South Africans.
The City of Cape Town launched this legal action in December, challenging the Minister of Energy and the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA).
The City of Tshwane is also pursuing this solution, having written to the Minister of Energy as far back as March 2019 requesting the same remedy.
“The City of Cape Town has invested extensively in technologies to assist with the switching process during rolling blackouts,” said DA leader John Steenhuisen.
In addition, the Steenbras Dam generation capacity has already been used to mitigate against rolling blackouts in Cape Town.
Big step forward if successful – Expert
Energy expert Chris Yelland told eNCA that the court case is aimed at allowing municipalities to buy electricity from the cheapest source possible.
“At this stage, they are prohibited to do so because of the single-buyer model of Eskom,” Yelland said.
He said municipalities should be given the ability to buy electricity directly from IPPs, but for this to happen, Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe must give them permission to do so.
This permission is not being given, however, which is why the City of Cape Town has launched court action against the minister.
“If this court case goes in favour of the City of Cape Town, it will open the door for other large metros to buy power directly from IPPs,” said Yelland.
He explained that most large metros, including Johannesburg, Tshwane, Ekurhuleni, Durban, and Port Elizabeth all want to generate their own electricity.
Yelland added that this is not a new concept and that municipalities used to generate their own electricity before Eskom became a monopoly.