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Energy|Eskom|Generators|Power|PROJECT|Project Management|Resources|System
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energy|eskom|generators|power|project|project-management|resources|system

Urgent electricity bill - key to solving SA's power crisis - delayed by admin bungle

Transmission lines

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16th August 2023

By: News24Wire

  

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An urgent piece of legislation that is key to overcoming SA's energy crisis has yet to be introduced into Parliament, it emerged on Wednesday, raising the fear that it will not be passed this year.

The Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill was approved by the Cabinet in March with the promise by Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni that it would be prioritised. 

The bill provides for establishing an independent entity that will enable a competitive electricity trading market. This is anticipated to lead to the growth of multiple electricity generators in competition with Eskom. It is an essential next step in the unbundling of Eskom and essential to attracting new investment into Eskom's transmission grid. 

The passage of the ERA amendment is a top priority of the National Energy Crisis Committee and Operation Vulindlela, which until last week believed that the process was on track. Operation Vulindlela is the project management unit in the Presidency, which "unblocks" administrative logjams to accelerate economic reforms.

On Wednesday, the chairperson of Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy, Zet Luzipho, told MPs that the bill could not be discussed as it had yet to be tabled in Parliament. Luzipho said he was concerned about the delay, given the pressure on the committee to pass the bill before the end of the year. Luzipho said that there was little hope of achieving this unless this was done before the beginning of September. 

The delay is believed to be due to an administrative bungle by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, which submitted the incorrect version of the bill for certification by the Chief State Law Advisor.  

Director-general of the department, Jacob Mbele, said in reply to questions on Wednesday that the latest version of the bill had been successfully certified on Monday, clearing the way for it to be tabled. Said Mbele:

The delay was due to the need for recertification of the bill by the Office of the Chief State Law Advisor due to some additions that were made following inputs by the Vulindlela team during the process of submission to Cabinet. The certification was granted on Monday and communicated to the Bills Office in Parliament on the same day.

DA MP Kevin Mileham said he remained concerned even if the bill were introduced before September as the committee has a full programme until the end of the year. Should provincial public hearings need to be held, it would be at least another nine weeks before it could be deliberated upon. If the bill were not passed before next year's election, it would be as much as another year before it was passed. 

Necom views a competitive electricity market as essential to ending the crippling energy shortage of the past 14 years. The bill sets out the functions of a Transmission System Operator (TSO), which will buy electricity from all producers, including Eskom's own power plants, on an independent and equal basis.

The TSO will be part of Eskom's National Transmission Company, established out of the unbundling. Strengthening the transmission grid by attracting private investment would unlock one of the binding constraints on the system, which cannot connect new capacity in some areas due to grid constraints. 

Edited by News24Wire

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