Carol Paton Writer at Large
Sipho Pityana. Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI
Sipho Pityana. Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI

As the cabinet sits to deliberate on the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), government’s long-term electricity plan, and Eskom begins load-shedding, business has made a plea to the government to urgently procure more electricity from renewable-energy producers.

Business Unity SA (Busa) has also set out an urgent to-do list for the government detailing what is necessary to restore the security of electricity supply. 

Renewable energy is the quickest form of new capacity to build. Eskom has, for years, been battling to meet demand as the deterioration of its ageing plants continue.

Busa says that the first step in restructuring the electricity sector is the gazetting of the IRP, which business says should be a “least-cost, least-regret” option and should not be further delayed. The plan, which sets out the energy mix for how government plans to meet electricity demand, is years overdue after much politicking over energy policy.

Mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe has said he expects the plan to go through the cabinet on Wednesday. However, he has indicated that it will include a mix of “all technologies”, implying that it will not be a least-cost option, in which the cheapest technologies are favoured.

Busa has also called for a plan on the restructuring of Eskom to be provided immediately following the IRP, as well a legal determination by the government to procure new, renewable generating capacity.

In addition to restructuring Eskom for which the appropriate management structure must be put in place, Busa says the following is urgent: 

  • The appointment of a CEO with proven leadership capability, assessed independently of political considerations.
  • The reinforcement of the board and management with competent and capable people.  
  • The creation of a management platform to drive the restructuring.
  • The finalisation of a government financial support plan to Eskom.
  • Putting in place a cost-reflective tariff regime.
  • Encouraging private-sector participation in Eskom and the sector.

Busa has also called on the government to provide a roadmap of Eskom’s future, which public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan has said will be provided in the form of a policy paper.  

Said Busa president Sipho Pityana. “We believe that the stabilisation of Eskom in a restructured industry is a long-term proposition where business can be of significant assistance as a partner.” 

patonc@businesslive.co.za