Cape Town draws battle lines over right to buy alternative energy from IPPs

Part of the waste to energy plant in Athlone (Jenni Evans, News24)
Part of the waste to energy plant in Athlone (Jenni Evans, News24)

Cape Town - The City of Cape Town plans to take Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson to court for the right to buy power directly from alternative energy suppliers, instead of Eskom.

The city wanted to get 20% of its energy from renewable resources by 2020, but needed the minister to sign off on an application to get independent power producers (IPP), mayor Patricia de Lille said at the unveiling of a waste-to-energy enterprise in Athlone on Wednesday.

She said there were many IPPs the city could buy its energy from directly, but only Joemat-Pettersson could give the go-ahead. She in turn had to consult the National Energy Regulator of SA before giving the go-ahead.

“We applied more than two years ago for her to give us that permission to buy directly from IPPs and there's nothing forthcoming. So we have got no option but to go to court and ask the court to rule on it,” De Lille said.

The city wanted to know if it was possible, if there was an administrative hold-up, or if Joemat-Pettersson was simply not answering the city's application.

READ: Waste-to-energy plant opens in Cape Town

Choices

Attorneys and senior counsel had been appointed and were looking into whether the mayor had the right to allow buying energy that the city's citizens would buy and could afford.

“We have the choices, but we are prevented through national government from exercising these choices, so that is what we are testing.”

The city did all its own buying through the Municipal Finance Management Act, but not for energy. It had to buy from Eskom, which it felt was wrong.

Comment from the minister's office was not immediately available.

The waste-to-energy plant, thought to be the first of its kind in Africa, would turn household waste into gases and compost, to be sold at a profit.

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