Load shedding: Red tape is holding back more megawatts – Ramaphosa

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President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
OJ Koloti, Gallo Images
  • Cyril Ramaphosa says red tape has hampered Eskom's ability to work more efficiently.
  • He adds that it has stalled independent power providers from adding more megawatts to the national grid.
  • Ramaphosa says people are no longer looking for excuses, they just want power.

President Cyril Ramaphosa says red tape has hampered Eskom's maintenance and the supply of additional megawatts from other sources.

"When we are now supposed to do things, there is this regulation, law and processes. When Eskom has to buy a boiler, they have to go to the Treasury and get permission, it is a long process," said Ramaphosa on Monday.

He was addressing a meeting of the ANC KwaZulu-Natal's provincial executive committee (PEC), which was held at the Msunduzi Athletics Stadium in Pietermaritzburg.

"We want to improve and speed up the licensing. We have established so many regulations, that ties us up and delays us and adds to the bureaucracy that we have to go through," he said about independent power producers (IPPs).

South Africa is currently in one of its worst electricity crises since democracy, with record levels of load shedding, which peaked at Stage 6 in recent weeks.

The crisis has caused extensive damage to an already ailing economy, while ordinary South Africans and businesses continue to lose faith in the government's ability to supply power.

ROLLING COVERAGE | Eskom and load shedding news as it happens

Ramaphosa told the KZN PEC that regulations put in place have hampered the deepening crisis, which is set to continue for at least another two years.

"We have put in place regulations that hold them back. These are some of the things that frustrate them (Eskom). They say, 'president, we cannot get spares easily'."

Renewable energy

Ramaphosa said the government was aiming to improve the performance of existing power stations and also to add more megawatts through renewable energy.

The government also wants to source surplus power from other southern African countries, he said.

"In our case, we are aiming to improve, right now, the performance of existing power stations. As I said, 80% of them are coal.

"The other objective is to add new capacity. When it comes to that, to address the current crisis, we are saying, yes, we are going to look at renewables. There are a lot of great opportunities emerging with renewables."

The Northern Cape, Western Cape and Eastern Cape are well-equipped when it comes to the capacity to generate solar and wind energy, he said.

"These are new technologically advanced sources of energy that we can utilise, so that is why we embarked on an IPP which, for Northern Cape, has brought almost R200 billion worth of investment."

READ | The people rise up: Top lawyers, politicians take aim at govt, Eskom as load shedding crisis deepens

He lamented the shortage of 6 000 megawatts on the national grid, saying poor maintenance ushered in the electricity crisis.

"In the past, one of the problems we had was that, over time, we did not maintain our power stations. In fact, we went through a period with Eskom where the word that was issued was, 'Don't maintain, just run the power stations and keep the lights on', particularly as we went into 2010.

"What we are reaping today is that many plants have not been properly maintained. Over time, maintenance was downgraded and the plants were run very hard."

He said the repair for current power stations had to be budgeted for two years in advance.

"And we would have to take them out of service for between six months and a year. We have to look at every part and replace what is not working."

The government was scaling up the process of issuing permits for renewable energy, he said.

"We have also been looking around southern Africa to see if other countries have more megawatts they can sell. That has been underway and we have been acquiring a number of megawatts from those countries." 

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