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Public not reaching electricity saving targets

by Michael Appel
on 01 Jul 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

While some electricity targets have been achieved, the South African public is still lagging behind industry in terms of its ability to reduce its electricity demands.

This is according to Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa, who was briefing reporters on the Economic, Investment and Employment Cluster's efforts to carry out government's Programme of Action, at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Tuesday.

"Some electricity savings targets have been achieved, however, it is important to register that residential areas are still lagging behind industry.

"Our current savings through demand side management is 100 Megawatts, however, our target is 600 Megawatts in this financial year," said the minister.

When Eskom was forced to carry out scheduled and unscheduled load-shedding earlier this year, major industrial consumers were approached to a 10 percent reduction in their electricity usage.

"The National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) Energy Summit in May [2008] successfully demonstrated the commitment of all stakeholders to address areas requiring action," said Mr Mpahlwa.

The National Energy Response Team (NERT) is proving effective in developing an integrated response to the emergency including demand side management.

In addition, the minister said, cogeneration tariffs and rules have been determined and published and Eskom's stockpiles have improved.

The public have been encouraged to curtail their electricity usage by investing in a number of energy efficient technologies, including geyser blankets, energy saving light bulbs and solar energy.

The public have been also been warned that government could penalise consumers for their excessive electricity usage.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Eskom, Jacob Maroga, recently announced the Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) programme which involves R345 billion being spent over the next five years.

"Our CAPEX programme is one of the most ambitious in the world, with plans to spend R345 billion within the next five years, and about R1.3 trillion by 2025.

"That is the estimated amount to double up the size of Eskom as we know it today," said Mr Maroga.

Minister Mpahlwa highlighted that the economic cluster was also considering the industrial policy response and opportunites that arise out of the electricity emergency.

These include the roll-out of solar heating and other energy efficiency devices; the promotion of more electricity efficient technologies; the industrial policy and technological potential of renewable electricity generation; and the promotion of energy efficiency in existing industry.

With regard to increasing fuel prices and its effect on South Africa consumers, the minister said government was looking into ways to lessen the burden of rising costs on the poor.

"There are elements which government can consider which could alleviate some of the pressures on South African consumers, and will be discussed after the Inter Ministerial Committee concludes its work," said Mr Mpahlwa.

With regard to the findings of the Competition Commission's enquiry into the costs charged to consumers in the banking sector, the minister said the possible establishment of a banking regulatory body would obviously not put a smile on the face of the banking sector.

"The banking industry would obviously not take the decision [to establish a regulatory framework on pricing] very willingly as it effects their profits at the end of the day.

"However, the decision taken by the Banking Enquiry is aligned with government's stance of protecting consumers from exploitation," the minister concluded. - BuaNews


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