The Western Cape government (WCG) says that load shedding is expected to get worse in 2023 and has resolved to establish a cabinet-level task team to help mitigate the impact of rolling blackouts in the province.
Western Cape premier Alan Winde said that energy resilience in the province has emerged as a key issue and needs to remain front and centre as the country faces another difficult year in 2023.
“Eskom has been upfront about this. Load shedding will likely worsen as they seek to improve the reliability of our energy infrastructure through their proposed maintenance plan.
“There will be more pressure on the power grid with the possibility of unplanned breakdowns of generation units. We will do everything we can to ameliorate this in 2023,” he said.
This has resulted in the WCG spending time across its departments to establish what needs to be done to mitigate load shedding. After these consultations, several stakeholders from government, business and research organisations presented possible areas where support was needed – which include:
- Looking at how the WCG can support households and businesses in introducing further energy efficiencies to reduce strain on the grid;
- Reviewing how the provincial government can support new energy generation, including exploring the development of possible frameworks and standards for energy wheeling agreements; offering further support for Small-Scale Embedded Generation; and supporting municipalities in engaging with Independent Power Producers.
- Continuing to work with municipalities across the province to develop their own energy plans and improve their energy resilience. The progress that the municipalities of Cape Town, George and Stellenbosch have made was noted.
- Preparing for possible increases in the severity of load shedding and the impact that this could have on critical infrastructure and services; and
- Communicating with stakeholders across the province about the energy crisis.
A study by Cape Town-based research firm, Yazi, found that over 40% of respondents said their income loss was due to power cuts, ranging between R1,000 and R5,000 per month.
“In light of such findings, there is clearly added urgency required to find short-term and long-term solutions to protect our developing businesses,” said Winde.
“We [the WCG] want our citizens to know that work is underway to support businesses, households and vulnerable groups in the face of increased load shedding as we are continuously reviewing and updating our energy crisis contingency plan, and boosting efforts to ameliorate the impact of mass power cuts,” he added.
While these reviews and updates are the main focus, Winde noted that the provincial government will still support Eskom in any way it can.
The province resolved to establish a Cabinet-level task team to look at what the WCG needs to do to further enable businesses, local government, civil society, and other partners to work closely with each other to protect the economy, jobs and the well-being of our citizens. The Premier will work closely with Cabinet to set up the task team.
Winde added that the energy crisis faced by South Africans in 2023 must be tackled with the same urgency and zeal demonstrated in response to Covid-19 and Day Zero.