'We'll make it happen': Mantashe says plan for new power utility a 'reality'

Despite President Cyril Ramaphosa not bringing up the establishment of a new power generating entity in his economics-heavy State of the Nation Address, Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe says the plan is a "reality".

Mantashe on Thursday briefed the media on the energy-related interventions announced by Ramaphosa in his speech last week.

As the country struggles with a shortage of generating capacity, Ramaphosa announced the fast-tracking of the procurement of emergency power, and gave the greenlight to municipalities in good financial standing to buy electricity from independent power producers. 

Ramaphosa did not, however, refer to the establishment of a new power utility distinct from Eskom, a project introduced by Mantashe at a mining indaba earlier in the month.

At the time Mantashe said he had invited investors to partner with government or invest in the establishment of the alternative power utility. "By this time next year we hope we can say we have a site for energy generation outside of Eskom. We want people to sell energy through transmission. We want to take the pressure off of Eskom," he said.

Responding to questions from Fin24 at Thursday's briefing, Mantashe said the new entity is not just an idea. "It is a reality, and we will make it happen," Mantashe said.

"I am sure you would appreciate the fact that – the president will not talk about everything and anything [in his address]. There are still departmental budgets which are coming, which will outline programmes department by department," he said.

The minister said that his department will be expanding on such issues when it draws up its budget adding he did not want to make any premature announcements.

"The idea of new power generation is real. I can tell you already there are indications of people who are interested," he added.

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