Electricity pylons near Mpumalanga. Picture: REUTERS/SIPHIWE SIBEKO
Electricity pylons near Mpumalanga. Picture: REUTERS/SIPHIWE SIBEKO

Peter Attard Montalto adds nothing new to the deluge of claims over the last few years about the supposed benefits of decentralised energy generation (“Holding on to central control of energy holds us all back”, May 2). And his stated faith in market mechanisms is a few decades out of date.

Like others, he fails to address or consider the implications for public finances — notably through Eskom, a behemoth in an indefinitely bad financial situation that remains a serious threat to fiscal stability.

The push for decentralised energy without due regard to national interest has largely come from advisers and experts with undeclared conflicts of interest, by virtue of funding from renewable energy players. Too many journalists and editors have ingenuously repeated their claims.

One insider confirmed to me a few years ago that significant funds have flowed into SA to finance renewables lobbying. Added to that, a renewable energy insider told me last year that some large financial institutions are circling around the fanciful, overhyped “green financing” plan that has been failing to get off the ground since 2018 — apparently because of the prospect of large commissions.

In the abstract there is clearly a good case for decentralised generation. But real-world policy needs to address the situation in which we find ourselves, not where we would like to have been. Decentralised generation poses risks to the fiscus, to the grid, and will almost certainly increase inequality without countervailing measures.

That Eskom management appears to have caved in to incessant attacks by those funded by vested interests raises the question as to where, if anywhere, the national interest is actually being prioritised. 

Dr Seán M Muller, University of Johannesburg School of Economics

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