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Lifestyle changes vital to achieve 10% energy reduction

by Shaun Benton
on 09 Apr 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

Western Cape Premier Ebrahim Rasool has urged individual households and smaller companies in the province to work much harder at cutting back on electricity use.

Cape Town and the Western Cape as a whole now needs to "upscale voluntary efforts", Mr Rasool said, pointing out that high electricity usage was "not a lifestyle right", and that South Africans had become spoiled by continuous supplies of cheap and abundant electricity over the years.

Mr Rasool was addressing several hundred people who were meeting at the Muizenberg town hall for an energy imbizo on Wednesday.

If the citizens, small businesses and other commercial enterprises of the province contributed more in energy savings, the province would be able to avoid load-shedding to a large degree, or at least to avoid "involuntary" load-shedding, Mr Rasool said.

Out of a provincial electricity savings target of 10 percent, which is roughly 500 megawatts (MW) per day, only 4 percent has been gained in the past two months, he said.

And, the bulk of this 4 percent in savings had been carried by Eskom's "selected industrial clients".

He said large, industrial energy users, in active collusion with Eskom, were bearing the brunt of current energy savings.

By July, government and Eskom aimed to roll-out the over one million compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) - which used less energy than conventional light bulbs - to homes across the province, to ensure greater savings.

And in another "far-reaching consensus" that the provincial government had achieved along with the City of Cape Town, there was to be a more concerted shift towards a renewable energy target - of 15 percent - by 2015, the premier added.

Along with this, the province and city aimed to reduce the overall "carbon footprint" - the amount of emissions caused by energy usage, measured holistically - of the region by 15 percent by 2015, he said.

To meet these important targets - and at least to avoid more load-shedding - everyone in the province needs to make conscious changes to their lifestyles, he said.

Mr Rasool was accompanied at the energy imbizo by Tasneem Essop, the provincial Minister for Environment, Planning and Economic Development, and Cameron Dugmore, the provincial Minister for Education, as well as Richard Dyantyi, the provincial Minister for Local Government and Housing.

Also present to engage with several hundred stakeholders from business, civil society, education institutions and labour were the provincial manager for Eskom, Peter Sebola and his colleague from Eskom, Alvie Sylvester.

Speaking to the gathering, Ms Essop said that during the electricity crisis in 2006, when the Koeberg nuclear power station was temporarily shut down for repairs, the province jointly managed to achieve a collective savings of 400MW per day.

If that could be done in 2006, the same or more could be saved this year, she said, adding that "the critical message is, if we save 500MW [per day] we can prevent load-shedding".

The premier told the assembly that the province had made an agreement with Eskom that it would even be spared from load-shedding - by the electricity utility "ring-fencing" the province - if it could achieve a collective savings of 10 percent.

But because the province was quite some way off the 10 percent target, the province was now at the stage where "we need to distribute load-shedding equitably".

This would mean further power cuts, many of which could come without prior warning, Mr Rasool added.

Already, Johannesburg - the industrial heart of the country - is bearing power cuts of an average of four hours per selected area at a time, on an average of three days a week, he said. - BuaNews

Compiled by the Government Communication and Information System

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