City of Cape Town Electricity Strategy comments by David Lipschitz.
I have downloaded and read the electricity strategy. I am very disappointed with it. But why should I be disappointed? It has become very obvious to me that this government does not want renewable energy production. And this even though we paid 2 cents per kWh tariff on our electricity bills for two years and for the past 2 years have been paying 3.5cents per kWh. Over R20 billion collected to pay Feed In Tariffs, etc, but no willingness on government to actually use these taxes for the purpose we are paying them. The same goes for the plastic bag tax and the car emissions taxes. Then we'll have the carbon tax from 2015 and all for the single purpose of collecting more tax. With no wish to implement Renewable Energy as envisioned in the 1998 and 2003 government white papers, ie government strategy.
And if you look a the graphs in section 1.2 you can see that we are currently 30% under our expected consumption. This because of massive efficiencies in households and businesses mainly due to electricity price increases and also solar water heaters, insulation, CFL's etc. Cape Town continues to grow fast, yet electricity supply is not growing. Yet we have been asked to save even more electricity. Are we mad? And what of the huge growth in electricity income for the City over the past 5 years? Where has this money gone? Why can't the City implement its own Feed In Tariffs to make Cape Town a world class city? Cape Town will be the Design capital of the world in 2014, but we may just be the laughing stock of the world!
Part of the reason also stems from the fact of industries continuing to close and the strikes which have the perverse effect of South Africa using less electricity.
And then if you look at 1.3, you see the words "where practical" and "finalization of national technical specifications" and "PPA's with IPP's" and nothing re residential and SMME roof top solar; nothing re Net Metering; nothing re Tariff Strategies for residential and SMME electricity users. Why not?
All this is geared to: 1) keep the small producer out of the equation; 2) further delay the adoption of RE (the government has been working on the specifications for a decade, yet there were companies reverse feeding the grid in the 1960's without any "technical" problems; 3) "where practical" means that no matter that Reverse Feed happens in millions of locations around the world, it is not practical in South Africa, which is fixated on the income it can derive from electricity pricing, instead of realising that we need electricity to grow the economy and the money should come from taxation associated with corporation tax and employee tax.
Furthermore in this section, we have the threat of Load Shedding and the request to switch off at peak times. Why should we do this? Switching off at peak times simply makes Eskom and the Cities richer without any benefit to the small users. Big users get paid to switch off and reduce load. Small users just get inconvenienced. It costs Eskom between R6 and R13 a kWh to run the diesel powered Ankerlig peaking power station, depending on who does the calculations. This electricity is sold to the residential customer at R1.50 a kWh. Why not allow Time of Use Metering and Net Metering and residential customers could thereby be incentivised to feed the grid at peak times? How much better it would be for Eskom to pay private people R2.60 a kWh which is there peak demand winter tariff? Everyone would actually be better off. At the moment, everyone, and especially the South African economy, is worse off.
And the department is "in the process of establishing a smart meter pilot." This pilot has been ongoing for years with no end in sight!! Why can't we actually do things instead of talking and writing about them?
It is time to start producing electricity so that the economy can grow. Until this happens South Africa will continue to be the 37th fastest growing economy in Africa and one of the world's poorest performing economies in an age of mass sustainable employment elsewhere in the world.