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Durban to divorce Eskom

Will this be the end of a toxic relationship?

By Jen Stern

, |

Durban to divorce Eskom

Will this be the end of a toxic relationship?

By Jen Stern

, |

2 min read

The various things that we’ve all said about Eskom (especially after bashing our shins in the dark) are not printable. Let’s face it. We are all – well – tired of what has become an asymmetrical relationship in which one side fails to deliver on promises. But we feel that we’re stuck in what is becoming an increasingly toxic relationship. So it is with great interest that we anticipate the City of Durban’s imminent divorce from the power (non-) provider.

The background – Durban Climate Action Plan

The city’s divorce from Eskom is partly driven by frustration at the failure of the utility to reliably deliver electricity to Durban (and the rest of the country), and partly by its commitment – as stated in its Climate Action Plan (CAP) – to become carbon-neutral by 2050. Dating back to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, and ratified in 2019, the CAP is a commitment by the eThekwini Municipality, with support from the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, to limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C.

The eThekwini Energy Policy

The  Amendments to the Electricity Regulations on New Generation Capacity, 2011 in terms of the Electricity Regulation Act of 2006 (Gazetted on 16 October 2020) providing scope for municipalities to develop their own power generation projects, subject to certain requirements.

The purpose of the Regulations as stated in the draft policy is, inter alia, to allow for new generation capacity , and to ‘create a resilient, integrated municipal energy system with a diversified energy mix to provide least-cost, reliable energy for our residents and businesses over the next 30 years.’

According to the draft, the eThekwini Integrated Resource Plan (EIRP), which forms part of the energy policy, will be the first local government integrated resource plan in South Africa. If successful, this policy will put eThekwini at the forefront of municipalities worldwide, and will create a positive precedent for other local government entities to break away from the power structures inherited from the previous regime. And, of course, to break away from South Africa’s inherited love affair with coal.

What does this mean for estates and developers

The Regulations, as they stand, are limited to organs of state that are already active in the energy sector, which includes municipalities. But it does not include private estates, individuals or developers.

However, with the dire record of service delivery of most of our municipalities and local and provincial governments, there are serious moves afoot to privatise service provision. So, while we applaud eThekwini Municipality’s intended break from Eskom and from coal, and their stated intentions to provide reliable sustainable electricity to citizens and industry, we should – perhaps – not hold our breath. And maybe plan for alternatives.

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