Waterfall City mulls options to rely less on Eskom

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The owner of Waterfall City says getting a wheeling license would be first price for the growing precinct. Photo: Waterfall City
The owner of Waterfall City says getting a wheeling license would be first price for the growing precinct. Photo: Waterfall City

As the escalation of load shedding drives some companies to consider the expansion of their own electricity generation, the owner of Waterfall City plans to put more panels in the precinct or even get a wheeling licence so that it could allow it to rely less on Eskom-generated power.

During Attacq's first ESG presentation, the property company's CEO Jackie van Niekerk said getting a wheeling license would be first prize for the Waterfall City.

After energy minister, Gwede Mantashe, issued new rules allowing independent producers to generate power of up to 100 MW without needing a licence, Attacq has started to investigate where it can expand its electricity generating capacity within its own land.

"We've got quite a bit of land. So, we could increase our capacity substantially. And with load shedding, it's just again evident [that it's] not just about being environmentally sensitive. But it's critical for us as landlords to increase that capacity," said Van Niekerk.

But given past dealings with the municipalities, Van Niekerk said it might take some time to get distribution licences. Attacq's chief development officer Giles Pendleton said even though the government had increased the amount of electricity that people could generate without a licence from 1 MW to 100 MW, companies still needed to get municipal consent to integrate their power into the grid.

But the Waterfall City is still developing. And to get enough electricity for the entire development to rely less on Eskom will likely need more power than Attacq can generate on the land in the precinct, even if it put panels on the whole roof of Mall of Africa.

The precinct still has another 47 000 square metres of approved developments it is yet to build and 2 200 hectare of land in total.

So, it might need to buy and wheel electricity from other independent producers to provide uninterrupted power supply to Waterfall City residents.

Pendleton said the first port of call to increase the precinct's power generation capacity was using its own land. But the challenge with putting solar panels on unused land was that as Waterfall City expands, the company would have to eventually move those to build.

But he said Attacq was "seriously" exploring the different options to help it provide uninterrupted services to Waterfall City residents, whether it's electricity or water supply.

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