Electricity
Electricity

The South African government must take immediate steps to address the worsening power crisis, the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) has said.

The DA made the appeal after electricity utility Eskom raised the level of load shedding from stage two to stage four in mid-Friday as a last resort to prevent the national grid from a total collapse. This was the higest level of load shedding ever implemented recently.

Stage two load shedding allows up to 2,000 MW to be shed, while stage four calls for 4,000 MW to be rotationally cut off.

Under stage four load shedding, South Africans have to endure unscheduled power cuts at any given time without any warning for close to four hours at a time.

“This fresh round of rolling blackouts comes on the back of an already shrinking economy, and will further impact economic growth as we head into the festive season and the height of South Africa’s tourism influx,” the DA said.

The party said it has written to Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, demanding that he take immediate steps to address the crisis.

The minister must prioritize procuring alternative sources of electricity and opening the grid to independent power producers (IPPs), said Kevin Mileham, DA Shadow Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy.

State-run Eskom has maintained monopoly on power supply, leaving South Africa few alternatives for additional energy supplies.

Many customers, including the City of Cape Town, have applied for government permission to purchase directly from IPPs, but to no avail.

The government has been criticized for blocking efforts to break Eskom’s monopoly on electricity supply.

The DA has indicated its willingness to work across party lines to resolve this crisis, by introducing the non-partisan Independent Electricity Management Operator bill to Parliament.

“We call on Minister Mantashe to support this initiative and help us fix South Africa’s electricity supply,” Mileham said.

Eskom, the world’s fourth largest coal-burning power plant, has been haunted by poor management and alleged corruption, two major factors that have contributed to the worsening power crisis.

For the past eight years, the government has spent 200 billion rand (about 13.7 billion U.S. dollars) on building the Khusile Power Station in Mpumalanga Province, but so far not a single generation unit at the station is operational.

This project is among the primary causes of Eskom’s problems, the DA claimed. Enditem

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