Western Cape’s plans to escape load shedding – including ‘power packs’ for some households

 ·17 Feb 2023

The Western Cape is continuing its shift away from the national grid and towards energy independence with massive investment plans on the horizon.

Speaking at the State Of the Province Address (SOPA 2023) on Thursday (16 February), Western Cape premier Alan Winde said that the province is South Africa’s only hope for a better future -especially in the electricity sector.

He said that the province had got a headstart against the national government when it came to dealing with load shedding and has been making strides far beyond what the national government had promised.

The Western Cape aims to ensure that when lights go out as a result of load shedding, access to water, education and connectivity is ensured – in turn, this will assist businesses in maintaining proper standards of operations.

The province has approached the provincial treasury for R1.1 billion toward energy independence and a weekly digital conference on energy to stay on top of any developments in the energy crisis, Winde said.

In January, the Western Cape government also authorised the emergency release of roughly R89 million for the procurement of backup generators to ensure municipal services such as water supply, wastewater treatment, and sewerage infrastructure that are hardest hit by ongoing load shedding are safeguarded as far as possible.

Due to the fact that citizens have, on average, spent R30 billion rand on inverters or other assistive technology, the provincial government has approached its treasury for funding to assist poorer households with emergency ‘power packs’, Winde added.

The premier said that the province has also shown significant interest in green hydrogen projects and has already met with a handful of foreign investors to look into the new fuel and its exportation.

On top of the abovementioned initiatives, the Provincial Electricity System Emergency Plan provides that the provincial disaster management centre will remain on high alert for as long as load shedding persists.

In December 2022, the City of Cape Town activated its disaster management centre to best try and mitigate rolling blackouts and organise mitigation strategies.

The city itself has made significant strides in protecting residents from power cuts. It recently unveiled plans to buy electricity from commercial and private homes through wheeling, and is focusing on securing more funding to draw power from more energy sources.

Broadly, the city’s plans include:

  • Buying power on the open market, with the second phase of its major IPP procurement due to be announced soon;
  • Paying businesses and residents to sell power back to the city;
  • Incentives for voluntary energy savings under a new Power Heroes programme;
  • Municipal generation projects such as Steenbras Hydro power, solar PV, and gas turbines.

Winde said that the national government should ring-fence provinces that are making strides in combatting power constraints by giving them a suitable and reflective level of load shedding. He expressed disappointment that this suggestion was ignored by the president during his State of the Nationa Address.

He said that energy independence within the Western Cape would best protect the citizens from a load shedding crisis that shows no signs of slowing down.

According to DailyInvestor, Eskom’s CEO Andre de Ruyter has warned that 2023 is going to be a tough year for power cuts.

The chief executive said the existing issues should be addressed and resolved by the conclusion of 2023. He expressed optimism that if this goal is achievable, the outlook for the years following 2024 will improve.

However, it is important to note that despite these efforts, load-shedding may still persist as significant new capacity must be added to the grid to prevent power cuts, said De Ruyter.

Read: Even the government has lost faith in government

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter