Powering wetlands

2017-03-21 06:02

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The wetlands area in Masiphumelele has been ruled out for further electrification. Now, councillors are turning to the sun’s energy to help residents.

A City of Cape Town survey late last year sought to define which areas could be safely electrified, explains Eddie Andrews, Mayco member (South).

The survey found that “no structures in the wetland can be electrified” in terms of the water table in the area, which includes all the structures beyond the setback line.

“Initially the City had targeted the reinstatement to households which had electricity previously.

“However, the fire also acted as a catalyst for more people to move into Masiphumelele. It had the effect of pushing back some of the original fire-affected beneficiaries, who had previously had electricity as they were not in the wetland area, into the wetlands area. Once this was discovered, the extension of electrical infrastructure beyond the setback line was discontinued,” Andrews explains.

“The area is also currently in a dry state which is enticing people to move into the wetland. When the rain comes, they will be subjected to extreme flooding. The electricity that has therefore been connected in the wetlands area in question is therefore not a long-term, permanent solution.”

The whole rest of Masiphumelele is electrified, Andrews says.

In a bid to supply energy to the homes in the wetland, subcouncil chairperson Felicity Purchase and the City’s electricity services officials have met with representatives of the iShack project.

This company uses solar electricity to help upgrade informal settlements, explains Purchase, and provides solar electricity, on a pay-for-use basis, to around 1500 residents of Enkanini informal settlement in Stellenbosch. The project currently runs a solar energy project that can drive a 12-volt DC system which can be used to run lights and media and charge cellphones.

They are looking to pilot a larger system which would be able to run a fridge, Purchase explains.

Purchase, the officials and iShack representatives visited Masiphumelele recently, and the City has asked iShack to write a proposal for implementation in Masiphumelele which would be in line with City electricity tariffs and indigent grants.

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