Tshwane doubles down on plans to revive decommissioned power stations

 ·12 Jun 2024

After operating at minimum capacity for over a decade or not at all, the Rooiwal and Pretoria West Power Stations in the City of Tshwane may power up once again.

The city has confirmed that it is moving forward with its plans to revive the two decommissioned power stations by leasing them to the private sector.

The city revealed that progress so far has yielded positive results, and operations might start as soon as next month.

“If everything goes well according to plan, we want to hand those [two power stations over to the private sector] by July,” Tshwane MMC for Utilities Themba Fosi told the SABC.

“The budget has been passed for an allocation of R50 million to the energy task team to have a transactional advisor that will be advising us on how to go about on these two power stations,” said Fosi.

Fosi said that the benefits of proceeding with this deal, which has been met with fierce opposition from some in council, would have “far reaching benefits” in allowing for the city to become more energy secure.

“If you have an overreliance on Eskom [the city would be impacted by power cuts from the state supplier, but if that reliance is] at 50%, if there is stage two loadshedding, we [are shielded and] can proceed with our day to day operations,” said Fosi.

Valued at over R360 million, Rooiwal and Pretoria West power stations have not been performing at maximum capacity for a while due to various reasons, including underinvestment in infrastructure.

According to a report by the city, the Pretoria West power station is not producing any electricity at the moment, whilst the Rooiwal station is producing 60 MW, 240 MW below its capacity.

Whilst the City of Tshwane owns the stations, spending approximately R300 million annually in maintenance and security costs, the running of operations has been under the jurisdiction of Eskom since the utility was established.

Thus, the Tshwane council set out and approved the second Rooiwal report in January.

This ultimately gave the green light to procced with the 40-year lease of Rooiwal Power Station and Pretoria West Power Station in terms of Regulation 35 of the Municipal Asset Transfer Regulations.

This adoption of the report followed months-long public consultation processes, which Tshwane mayor Cilliers Brink said had an “overwhelmingly positive response which indicates that our residents understand that we need to take drastic actions to end load-shedding.”

However, critics in the consultation process have cited the high-cost of electricity in the country, worrying that unregulated intervention from the private sector could push prices even higher – something that Brink and his executives have strongly refuted.

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