The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) is finalising an internal audit on a bidding process to enable the finalisation of contractual arrangements with appointed service providers for the department’s National Solar Water Heater Programme.
Following the conclusion of the audit, the installation of solar water heaters (SWH) is set to resume.
The DMRE has not installed any SWHs in the 2019/20 financial year.
In a response to a Parliamentary question by the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) Kevin Mileham, who is the Shadow Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, the DMRE confirmed that installation companies had been appointed in December 2019.
When asked about the number of units still in storage, the department said it had procured 87 206 SWH baseline systems from bid number DOE 008/2015/16, from which 150 systems were installed in the Sol Plaatjie municipality on a repair and replace programme during the 2018/19 financial year.
Another 200 systems were installed during the same period at a pilot project in Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, with the remaining systems in storage – some at State-owned entities, municipalities and suppliers/manufacturers’ storage facilities.
The monthly storage fees, however, vary depending on the number of days in a month, the DMRE indicated. As an example, for a 30-day month, the storage costs amount to just over R7.9-million, while in a 31-day month, storage costs are just under R8.2-million.
In terms of the supply agreement for the supply of the SWHs, the department said it had “both financial and contractual obligations” to settle additional storage costs in line with the extension of time on taking delivery of the manufactured goods.
However, the DMRE noted that a delay was experienced owing to participating municipalities’ delay in concluding framework agreements in accordance with the Intergovernmental Framework Act owing to the project being implemented across the different spheres of government and the need to clearly outline roles, responsibilities and obligations of each of these spheres during the programme’s implementation.
Following the delay, the DMRE partnered with the Department of Labour and Employment (DoL) and the Central Energy Fund to facilitate the training of installer assistants.
An estimated 2 644 installer assistants will be trained.
The DoL has committed R36-million for the training.