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COCT issues tender to reward customers who voluntarily turn off power

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The City of Cape Town is working to initiate a reward system for residents and businesses who voluntarily have their power turned off, to conserve electricity.

It comes as Eskom plunged South Africans back into Stage 4 loadshedding on Tuesday evening, citing the tripping of a generation unit each at Kendal power station in Mpumalanga and Lethabo power station in the Free State. Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan appointed a new board last week in response to rolling black-outs and urgent demands for reform amid several empty positions.

Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis announced that the City has issued a tender for ‘third party aggregators’ which would use smart technology to switch off agreed-to non-essential electrical equipment, to mitigate the impact of Eskom-induced power cuts.

Over the past few months, the City has regularly reduced a full ‘Stage’ of loadshedding for the customers it services, amounting to 722 hours of Eskom load-shedding between February and July 2022. Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis says the Steenbras Hydro Pumped Storage Scheme protects customers from up to two stages.  In a statement, Hill-Lewis said that latest initiative aims to reduce demand and prevent higher stages of loadshedding.

“In Cape Town, we have decided that we cannot sit around and wait for Eskom and the national government to do what needs to be done to end the load-shedding that is destroying our economy. I have written to the President explaining ten ways that the problem could be fixed with the help of municipalities such as Cape Town, but have not been met with any willingness in this regard,” he emphasized.

According to the City, the goal is to reduce usage by 60 MW through requesting residential and small-scale commercial customers to put off non-essentials such as geysers, swimming pools etc when the City advises to do so.

The tender-appointed aggregators would be responsible for signing up with customers to facilitate the move and determine and manage the relevant incentives. The tender conditions and agreements will identify in what way the City rewards the aggregators.

“With this tender, reducing demand will become a contractual requirement and bring more certainty to our energy space. Once the third-party entities or aggregators that will manage the Power Heroes have been appointed in terms of the tender processes, the aggregators will be made known to the public.” said mayor Hill-Lewis.

“We are busy evaluating a tender we advertised earlier this year which will enable the City to procure 200MW from Independent Power Producers (IPPs); we’ve also just issued a tender for the engineering, procurement and construction of a solar power plant in Atlantis, with more planned across the metro. Apart from IPP and own-build projects, we are working to create an enabling environment to bring more partners on board,” he added, noting the allocation of R15 million toward small-scale embedded generators.

Energy crisis

A comical mishap last week, saw President Cyril Ramaphosa admitting that the current energy crisis is a “calamity of enormous proportions”  and needs to be urgently addressed. It comes after his mic was muted by loadshedding, during his address alongside CoGTA minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma on Day 2 of the National Local Government Summit in Ekurhuleni.

Ramaphosa cut an international trip short after stage 5 and 6 loadshedding was instituted earlier this month.  He denied that the sacking of Mineral Resources and Energy minister, Gwede Mantashe, and Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan would improve the state of the utility, and that the Eskom failures could be laid squarely at their feet.

“Everybody is focused [on solving the crisis], from the two Ministers and including all the executives that have been put under tremendous pressure to address this. We are going to be making some announcements, and we hope and trust and believe that will then take us forward,” said Ramaphosa.

The recently announced plans to attain energy security in the country, has opened up policies that allow municipalities to either generate electricity directly or to procure electricity from independent power producers (IPP’s). Ramaphosa also noted that the pending and highly debated unbundling of Eskom is also a means of removing the country’s reliance on a poor-performing monopoly business.

Mitigation plans

Mantashe said South Africa’s transition to a low-carbon economy must include energy security, regard for human lives, sustainability, job security, and economic growth. He was speaking at the Africa Oil Week conference in Cape Town on Tuesday, where he emphasized the country’s commitment to the global agenda to decarbonize. Mantashe empahised that the country’s over-reliance on coal has to be scaled down, with 75 percent of energy derived from the fossil fuel.

According to reports, the country’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme has meanwhile received 56 wind and solar project submissions under its sixth bid window. The bids are split across five provinces, including 24 in the Western Cape and eleven in the Free State.

These are understood to have a combined capacity of more than 9 600 megawatts across 23 wind and 33 solar photovoltaic bids. Reports indicate that less than a handful have however signed official agreements.

The City of Cape Town meanwhile noted that several interventions or plans are in place, including ongoing procurement of power from IPP’s “which is currently in the technical bid evaluation phase” as well as the construction of a solar plant in Atlantis next year, “with more own-build projects planned across the City”.

Other interventions include: “the introduction of cash payments for excess electricity produced by commercial customers with their own embedded generation facilities, for example solar panels on factory roofs” and [a] “wheeling project, which will allow large generators to sell to private consumers at other locations in the city through the use of the City’s distribution grid and lessen the demand for Eskom-produced (and eventually City-produced) power.”

Tender details

Application documents can be collected between 8.30am and 3pm at the Cape Town Civic Centre, 12 Hertzog Boulevard, Cape Town, at the Tender Distribution Office, 2nd Floor (Concourse Level).

Submit to: Tender Box 127 at the Tender and Quotation Box Office, before 10am on 1st November 2022.

Tauhierah Salie Solomon

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