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Power cuts cost Cape Town R1bn a month

| Economic factors

Cape Town is losing around R1 billion a month from load shedding and the city council is now looking at buying electricity from independent power producers to help diversify the energy mix and secure a more reliable power supply.

The city is looking primarily at liquid gas and renewables.

Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson said after an energy efficiency forum meeting that “the blame game” about the electricity crisis was over and large cities had to be the key drivers in finding urgent solutions to the energy crisis.

Neilson said the city was acutely aware that load shedding was affecting business profoundly, and although Eskom was tasked with resolving some serious problems, it was clear the utility could not do it alone. The city was engaging with national government and Eskom to see how it could play a greater role in solving the energy crisis.

“We need to diversify the energy supply to the Western Cape, primarily by bringing in liquid natural gas.

“But the people who would bring in gas won’t do so until they have an adequate market.

“We’re willing to go into power purchase agreements to help facilitate bringing in gas to the province and the city, so we can be an anchor. We’re trying to get a critical mass. Power purchase agreements have got through the Department of Energy, so our actions will succeed only if we work with other government agencies,” Neilson said.

Neilson said the city’s proposals were discussed at this week’s energy efficiency forum, established in 2009 with Eskom and the South African Property Owner’s Association.

Other options the city is looking at include ways to use the pumped storage scheme at Steenbras Dam and how to bring in more renewable energy.

Neilson said it was investigating having its own “demand-response system” where businesses could be contacted to reduce demand immediately, rather than have load shedding.

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