Businesses turn to green energy, avoid Eskom cuts

(This article was published in the Weekend Argus, a weekly newspaper in the Western Cape province, South Africa, on March 20 2016.)

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Businesses are to play a bigger role in securing Cape Town’s electricity needs in a bid to counter national power supplier Eskom’s load-shedding impact on profits.

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille said yesterday that businesses would play a role with local government to use renewable energy technology to generate electricity.

De Lille was scheduled to address a government meeting with businesses last night.

De Lille said Eskom’s power cuts, as part of its plan to spread a short-supply of electricity across the country, had led to “many periods of job-killing”.

“If we want to continue on the upward trajectory of economic growth and job creation in Cape Town, we need to act now to make our city and province energy secure,” said De Lille.

“We cannot leave the future of energy security in the hands of Eskom. We no longer want to merely be distributors of electricity but want to become energy creators as well.

“Traditionally, the city has had a very simplistic role when it comes to electricity. We would simply buy electricity from the national monopoly Eskom and distribute it to our household and businesses.”

De Lille said the city has a “number of projects where we are creating a new model for energy generation and distribution”.

“This allows household and businesses to play a part in providing the solutions to our energy shortfalls while building local resilience for the future,” said De Lille.

“We have signed small-scale embedded electricity generation contracts with Black River Park Investments and 17 other major commercial industrial customers who are able to feed electricity into the city’s grid.

“We haves also signed contracts with 43 residential customers who are able to feed into the city’s grid in a legal and responsible manner.”

De Lille said the city wanted locals “not to go off the grid but use PV panels to become energy producers and have the city’s electricity grid being utilised as an efficient storage and distributor of that electricity”.

“The reform for the business model for our electricity department will also consider ways in which we can make the more financially attractive for businesses and households to generate their own electricity with solar panels on their roofs,” she said.

“We are also leading by example in our own operations in by retrofitting the lights in our buildings, as well as our traffic and street lights.

“All 1 500 traffic lights now have efficient LED light bulbs and more than 25 000 street lights have been retrofitted.”

De Lille added: “The future is renewable energy, not nuclear. I therefore implore business and the green sector to work with the city and province to make sure we bring about an efficient energy system and a future that is energy secure.”

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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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