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DA Launches Power Plan - O RLY?

11 March 2014, 11:18
Make no mistake, I support the DA. Although they were born out of opposition politics, they have shown that they are indeed competent administrators, where they have beaten the cANCer.


In time to come, one hopes they will govern in more cities and provinces, and come to rely on their own organic policies. You see, at present, DA politics is founded on being anti-ANC. If the ANC goes up, the DA goes down. If the ANC says 1, the DA says 0. You get the picture.


So I dutifully rolled my eyes when the DA announced their shiny new nine-point plan to solve the power crisis. Can you tell it's an election year? We have one day of blackouts, and suddenly Otta is Nicolai Frickin' Tesla.


So here then, selected highlights from the plan...- A number of items of an administrative nature - a debate in parliament, asking the regulator to investigate, asking questions of the Fat Zulu, investigating the Eskom bonuses etc- Questions surrounding Medupi and/or Hitachi and/or Chancellor House- Exploring the possibility of an independent system operator and/or free energy market in which distributors, including Eskom, buy electricity from generators, both independent and Eskom


If you accept that the last matter has zero chance of being passed into law until such time as JZ and his mates are good and ready, the DA's power plan is bereft of ideas that add megwatts to the grid.


Eskom bonuses must be seen as safe. The board and exco are hiring highly qualified people, with the task of running a company that talks on hundreds of billions of rands. When they've met their targets, they've deserved their bonuses. The minute you place those bonuses on the block arbitrarily, you lose every advantage of being able to attract quality talent.


To their credit, they have looked at one measure that seeks to reduce demand, specifically the supply contracts with neighbouring countries.


Unfortunately the bulk of these contracts have been negotiated by clever lawyers and commercial people to be firm and inviolable, and for the most part, make good sense. For example, we provide Lesotho with power, in return, we draw water off the Highlands Water Scheme. Another example, we import power from Cahora Bassa, and a sizeable chunk gets wheeled out again to Mozambique, to supply their burgeoning industries. Simply opening the breakers without consequences is not going to happen.


So let's say we can bin 500MW of foreign load. Against a 2,500MW shortage? And realise too, that long before we reach that sort of shortage, we' d have been shutting off the interruptibles (the smelters and other large customers) too. That's the price they pay for cheap power.


Nay, Mrs Zille, this country needs generation, not plans in an election year. It needs boilers burning coal, making steam, turning turbo-generators, sending MW into the grid. Eskom has, in good faith, embarked on the construction of 8,000 MW of capacity at Medupi and Kusile. And it has been sorely disappointed by its own projects execution people and contractors.


And not just Hitachi. We know there is collusion in the civils industry, who is to say the same has not happened at Medupi? World-renowned engineering companies have been shown to be simply incompetent. Labour has been treated with kid gloves.


What is needed is action. Poor performance? You're on notice. Then kicked off site. Striking for no good reason? You're cannon fodder in the grand scheme, you're fired. There are thousands more workers who will happily step into the shoes of their recalcitrant predecessors, and toe the line.


We also need to make investment decisions regarding our future nuclear fleet, because it is near criminal that we continue to poison the air and water of the highveld, through coal mining and fossil fuel-fired power generation.


Nuclear power is clean, efficient and safe, and is the only solution to our future base load needs.
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