by Department Of Energy, Northern Cape Premiers Office

Energy update in the Northern Cape

Cabinet engagement on energy issues in the province

Northern Cape has potential to become leader in alternative energy programmes

Following a successful public participation programme acknowledging the 5.6 millionth national household electricity switch-on, high-ranking government officials met to discuss energy issues of great importance.

Led by Minister Dipuo Peters and Premier Sylvia Lucas, the meeting was addressed by the provincial director-general, Advocate J. Bekebeke, the various line function deputy directors-general of the Department of Energy and chief executive officers of the energy state-owned entities (SOEs) including the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa), PetroSA, Central Energy Fund (CEF), National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) and NECSA. 

In his presentation to the house, the provincial DG gave an overview of the province's economic development programmes, with a particular focus on the Northern Cape’s energy profile.

Acknowledging the challenges caused by historical omissions in the development of the province's economic profile other than in diamond mining, the DG stressed the current status of the province as one with the potential to become a leader in alternative energy implementation programmes. 

Corroborating the provincial DG's summary of the province's potential as a leader in renewable energy offerings, Dr Wolsey Barnard, DoE deputy director-general (DDG) for Energy Programmes and Projects, gave the house a status report on the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Programme (REIPPP).

The DDG stated that with 21 of the 47 Window 1 and 2 projects located in the Northern Cape, the province is currently a leader in hosting IPPs – a status welcome by all present, as it reflects the fact that the Northern Cape has the highest eradiation levels in the country. 

Dr Barnard also spoke to the issues of current provincial electrical connectivity. He highlighted the fact that approximately 44 000 households in the province were without electricity.

The Integrated National Electricity Programme (INEP) will address some of the provincial backlog during the 2013/14 financial year. The INEP national allocation of R3.8 billion is divided between Eskom and municipalities, which will receive R 2.1 billion and R1.6 billion respectively. 

Addressing the issue of the one million solar water heater geyser programme, the DDG took this opportunity to appeal to concerned municipalities to prioritise their participation in the programme by providing all required information timeously and in line with set requirements. 

In addition to the thorny issues of household connectivity and the development potential associated with the REIPP, the DoE’s team addressed petroleum and nuclear programme matters. Speaking to the petroleum issues, Mr Tseliso Maqubela, DDG, focused on the potential associated with shale gas for the province as well as the need to prioritise production and utilisation of liquefied petroleum gas for household, business and industrial usage. 

Mr Zizamele Mbambo, DDG, addressed the house on nuclear programme issues in terms of the existing Vaalputs disposal site facility located outside Springbok. He stressed safety issues, and skills development opportunities for provincial youth in taking up study opportunities in fields such as nuclear engineering.

Dr Ramastsemela Masango and Mr Thabo Tselane spoke to the efforts made by the DoE and the SOEs in demystifying nuclear in order to promote better public appreciation of the contribution that nuclear energy can make to the nation. 

Ms Phindile Nzimande, CEO of Nersa, undertook a commitment to have a follow-up engagement with provincial municipalities to assist to come closer to the national benchmark in terms of energy tariffs.

In closing, Minister of Energy Dipuo Peters and Northern Cape Premier Sylvia Lucas acknowledged that it was not possible to exhaust all the pertinent issues at this first interaction, and that there would be future engagements to discuss all the issues in greater detail.

Lucas expressed her appreciation at the development of a highly positive and enriching relationship between the parties. She said the information shared with her and her provincial colleagues by the minister and officials of the DoE on renewable energy has clearly demonstrated the potential of renewable energy to fight the triple challenges created by poverty, inequality and unemployment.

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Issue 68