Joburg kick-starts plan to source power from independent producers

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Johannesburg started its independent power producer (IPP) programme on Wednesday to supplement the city's energy supply.
Johannesburg started its independent power producer (IPP) programme on Wednesday to supplement the city's energy supply.
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  • Johannesburg's independent power producer programme began on Wednesday.
  • The City of Johannesburg published its request for proposals for alternative energy sources.
  • Mayor Mpho Phalatse said she was hopeful that adding independent power producers to the grid would end rolling blackouts in the city.

Johannesburg has begun its independent power producer (IPP) programme.

The programme includes contracts with IPPs – especially those with alternative energy sources – to supplement the city's energy supply, 90% of which comes from embattled power utility Eskom.

The City of Johannesburg published its request for proposal (RFP) for alternative energy sources on Wednesday.

Johannesburg Mayor Mpho Phalatse said she believed adding IPPs would end the rolling blackouts caused by breakdowns at Eskom.

According to a statement by the mayor and Environment and Infrastructure Services MMC Michael Sun, the metro's power utility, City Power, has gone out to the market to secure excess energy from alternative sources through short-term power purchase agreements of up to 36 months.

The announcement came a day after Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer warned of prolonged load shedding over the next six to 12 months. On Tuesday, Oberholzer said Eskom could not deliver and burn enough diesel to keep the lights on. The country now faces daily Stage 3 load shedding.

The City's RFP follows the two-day Joburg Energy Indaba, which was convened in April.

READ | Eskom's acting head of generation quits

Phalatse said the request for proposals to power producers signalled a "clear start" on the journey of securing "reliable, sustainable, and affordable energy".

"A city whose contribution to the national economy is almost 16%, while making up 40% of Gauteng's economy, cannot be left without energy for hours on end."

Eskom supplies the city with 90% of its electricity, with Kelvin Power, an IPP, supplying the rest.

Sun said he was proud of the "hours of diligent work" carried out by City Power to create the opportunity for RFPs.

Sun said: 

And while I am proud of the efforts thus far, this is only the beginning of the... determined effort to shield residents from the socioeconomic poison of rolling blackouts.

According to the statement, the City is also undergoing an approval process for "ministerial determination" to procure power from IPPs on a longer-term basis.

City Power is looking to diversify its energy sources, including assessing solar, gas, battery storage, waste-to-energy and the dispatchable option of gas to power to secure extra capacity.

City Power chief executive Tshifularo Mashava said the traditional business model of procuring the bulk of Joburg's power from Eskom was no longer viable.

"Eskom itself has conceded to that effect. It is for this reason that we have developed a sustainable energy strategy that includes procuring power from diverse sources," said Mashava.

According to the statement, this step comes after five months of consultation with critical stakeholders, including the National Treasury, the Departments of Mineral Resources and Energy, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa, and the City of Cape Town.

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Cape Town is the country's prototype for bulking up Eskom's supply with IPPs. The city has been able to reduce load shedding by adding power from the 180MW Steenbras Dam hydroelectric plant.

It also announced a plan to reward businesses for volunteering to reduce their power supply at certain times.


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