Today Premier Alan Winde hosted the first meeting of his newly-established Energy Council. The meeting was held against the backdrop of the first round of stage 6 load shedding for 2023, not even two weeks into the new year, and before intensive energy users have restarted operations. The Council laid out the foundations for how it will be constituted and has fleshed out its priorities; namely to ensure that the Western Cape is energy resilient.
Former Eskom manager Alwie Lester – who has been appointed as an energy advisor in the Office of the Premier – was also officially introduced to other Council officials. “Mr. Lester has wasted no time and has hit the ground running,” the Premier pointed out.
“Urgency is required if we are to save our economy and push ahead with our Growth For Jobs strategy. Load shedding is costing South Africa and our province billions in lost opportunities. It is conservatively estimated that stage 6 load shedding is costing South Africa between four and six billion rand per day,” stressed the Premier. He added, “The urgency needed to address this catastrophe is painfully absent at national government. The Western Cape has to become independent of Eskom as quickly as possible”.
At the gathering a plan of action, both medium and long-term – was discussed, involving whatever resources the Western Cape Government (WCG) has at its disposal.
The council has resolved that:
- its work must be data-driven;
- a broad energy mix must be considered;
- all viable opportunities must be explored; and
- the most vulnerable in the province must always be borne in mind as they are suffering the most as a result of relentless power cuts, which are predicted to worsen this year.
Provincial Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning Minister Anton Bredell said, “The same response the Western Cape Government applied to fight Covid-19 must be used in addressing the energy crisis.”
Tertuis Simmers, Western Cape Infrastructure Minister, stated, “A key approach is further opening up the market to Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to come on board to help us end load shedding.”
The Council undertook to include the expertise of key stakeholders in the private sector. “In this conundrum, we need to enable the private sector as quickly as possible,” said the Premier.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic Of South Africa: Western Cape Provincial Government.