DA: Break Eskom monopoly

2008-01-29 00:00

Cape Town — The Democratic Alliance (DA) has vowed to pursue all available policy and legislative avenues to ensure that Eskom’s monopoly as the sole purchaser of electricity in South Africa is done away with.

Presenting a set of proposals aimed at dealing with the electricity crisis, DA spokespeople said that fighting Eskom’s monopoly will be a key focus for the party during the forthcoming parliamentary session.

DA Environmental Affairs and Tourism spokesman Gareth Morgan and his Minerals and Energy counterpart, Hendrick Schmidt, told journalists that the root causes of the problem are Eskom’s poor management and its monopoly over power generation.

“The current policy position reserves Eskom’s right as the sole purchaser of all electricity generated in South Africa. Therefore, while provision is made for independent power producers to generate up to 30% of SA’s total electricity output, the power generated must be sold to Eskom and not to any other users.”

Morgan said the measures announced by the Cabinet in a bid to deal with the crisis last week do not go far enough.

“Most importantly, however, the measures punish consumers, but place very few obligations on the government to improve its own performance and compensate for its own failings in the past.”

The DA plan outlines short- and medium-term energy solutions and is centred on three key areas: diversifying SA’s energy generation sources, reducing consumption and improving Eskom’s performance.

On the diversification of energy sources, the DA called on the government to co-ordinate the installation of at least two million solar water heaters, in households within metropolitan areas by the end of 2011 and to pass metro bylaws that include a requirement for the installation of solar water heaters in all new buildings and additions to buildings.

“To make better use of SA’s wind power, the government and Eskom must, among other things, expand the Klipheuwel wind power programme to other suitable parts of the country and ensure that the SA National Energy Research Institute completes an updated and accurate wind power atlas by the end of 2008,” Morgan said.

“We also propose tax exemptions for generators to ensure that, for businesses where power outages have the potential to cause significant losses or danger, machinery can be kept running.”

On energy efficiency and conservation, the DA called on the government to develop a policy in consolation with industry, for the mandatory energy consumption labelling of all appliances.

The DA said local councils and government departments need to take the lead in implementing policies, which will allow for power saving, including alternative hours of work and switching off lights.

“Furthermore, many local councils continue to lose revenue to illegal electricity connections and non-payment of electricity accounts … Policing and penalties for non-payment and illegal connections must be stepped up and the department of provincial and local government needs to negotiate targets for such reductions with councils.”

On Eskom’s skills crunch, the DA called on the entity to “simply appoint the right people in the right positions, irrespective of gender and race”.

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