Michele du Plessis
During the Combined Chambers of Sabie, Graskop and Lydenburg, Eskom and Thaba Chweu Local Municipality (TCLM) court case, Eskom said in court “that they do not care what the consequences of their actions are too small towns”. (Directly quoted from SSD message from Rupert Culwick)
“It is in the national interest that they (the small towns) survive. But of course, they forget that as the economy shrinks, so do their sales. And they encourage users to find alternative power sources. When a monolith has constitutional protection to be a monopoly supplier, it spells real trouble. But if we work together we can change the way things work. Watch the SCCT bulletins to see how you can do your little bit to help,” Rupert Culwick, Vice-chair of Sabie Chamber of Commerce and Tourism said.
“We all know that Eskom-imposed power cuts have been hurting us and our economy since October 9th, 2017. The load shedding of five and a half hours per day will be increased by two more hours as of tomorrow morning. This “load shedding” has been implemented by Eskom since 9th October 2017 due to Thaba Chweu Local Municipality’s (“TCLM”) overdue accounts that have caused severe distress and hardship for communities covered by TCLM,” Captain Gwilym Rees, Chairman of SCCT, said.
Melusi Maposa, Managing Director of Accenture and a sector specialist, said in an article published on January 24th that “If the lights went out in the past 12 months, then it was a distribution failure, not load-shedding. In the 2015 NERSA report, one municipality managed only 2% compliance with the NERSA scorecard. Compliance is often a measure of the quality of electricity distribution – no industrialist would start a business in a 2% compliant town!”
TCLM agreed that the distribution license for electricity should revert back to Eskom. “Council resolved to hand back distribution license to Eskom. This decision emanates from the municipality being unable to honor the payment plan agreed between two parties. However, this is not a hanging fruit it might take some time to finalize it. We are exploring other avenues to find an amicable solution while we engage the power giant supplier, Eskom,” Puleng Mapheto, Media Manager for TCLM, stated.
“For years NERSA has reported non-compliance – it is time for a solution. Capital and skills from the private sector can help avoid a crisis caused by abundant generation but a feeble distribution infrastructure in many municipalities. The whole process should be initiated by NERSA: it should cancel the electricity distribution licenses for the 20 worst performing municipal distributors due to non-compliance with regulations – giving those municipalities a chance for electricity-driven prosperity based on private sector funding and skills. If necessary Parliament must support NERSA with a change to the Constitution,” Maposa, said.
Municipal electricity departments need skills to allocate, prioritize and prudently invest in electricity. Even if funding is available – where will the skills come from? Maposa said: “Our belief is “the private sector”. But we recognize there is pressure to keep electricity in the public sector. If we can separate electricity from other infrastructure, then other public sector organizations can be a source of electricity skills, although possibly not sources of funding. A municipality could contract Eskom or another municipality for institutional capacity to run its electricity network. The Department of Energy renewables programme has demonstrated that private capital is available for electricity, provided there is assurance on capital recovery.”
Until such time that Nersa, Eskom, TCLM and government has decided on a way forward, the little towns in South Africa, Sabie included, will die a slow death if their appeals for justice is considered “not urgent”.
Source: Direct quotes taken from articles by Melusi Maposa on his LinkedIn page