Eskom-free future for Stellenbosch?

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(Photo by: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)
(Photo by: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)
  • The municipality of Stellenbosch wants to cut ties with Eskom.
  • In order to do this, a study must be undertaken to determine the viability of deriving energy from alternative means.
  • Mayor Gesie van Deventer believes the municipality has the potential to do be the first to do this because it has access to some of the "brightest minds in the energy sector".


Stellenbosch Municipality is eager to be the first municipality to completely cut ties with Eskom.

With the goal of becoming the first municipality in the country to mitigate the economic impact of load-shedding, the Stellenbosch municipal council will conduct an investigation into generating and using alternative electricity supplies.  

The Western Cape Government said in a statement on 28 January, that: "Through the Municipal Energy Resilience (MER) Project, the Western Cape government will be supporting the Stellenbosch Municipality in their aim to become energy resilient."

The amendment of Schedule 2 of the Electricity Regulation Act that took place last year October enables municipalities to research means of generating their own electricity, in addition to procuring electricity from independent power producers (IPP).

According to the Stellenbosch Municipal council, "… today's [Thursday's] decision marks the official start of a journey for Stellenbosch Municipality that may culminate in energy independence and long-term energy sustainability".

This decision requires visionary leadership, technical excellence, and strong financial and corporate management, said Kevin Mileham, DA Shadow Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy in an article written on 28 January.

"Sadly, most of South Africa's municipalities do not have such capabilities," he added.

Generating alternative energy

According to Van Deventer the municipality benefits from years of sustained good governance and being in the fortunate position of having access to some of the "brightest minds in the energy sector".

These minds include experts from Stellenbosch University, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), internal research entities, and the Western Cape government.

 

A study will be undertaken to determine the viability of deriving energy from alternative means. It will explore the use of methane mining, solar panels, allowing the public to generate electricity and sell this to the municipality, purchasing electricity directly from registered IPPs, and potential electricity sales to willing buyers from outside our municipal area, said Van Deventer.

"The national electricity challenges are not going away anytime soon and councils know that without a guaranteed electricity supply, job security and economic growth remains at risk," said Anton Bredell, Western Cape Provincial Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning.


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