Tshwane Metro Council explores private partnership to upgrade power stations

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The City of Tshwane Metro Council is considering a private partnership with investors to enhance the functioning of the Rooiwal and Pretoria West Power Stations.

This will assist the City to independently generate nearly 1000 megawatts of electricity in the next three years. Recently, the Tshwane Council approved a public participation report for the proposed 40-year lease of the Rooiwal and Pretoria West Power Stations.

Outlining the City’s energy master plan, the Executive Mayor of Tshwane Metro Council, Cilliers Brink, said it will assist in reducing the City’s dependence on Eskom. The deal to lease out the Rooiwal and Pretoria West power stations was rejected previously.

This comes after it emerged that the former mayor, Randal Williams, allegedly manipulated the municipality’s procurement process to secure R26 billion from the controversial Kratos Consortium. However, Brinks is adamant that the initiative will go a long way toward alleviating load-shedding and dependence on the embattled power utility, Eskom.

He briefed the media during an inspection visit at the Rooiwal power station, north of the City.

“Earlier this year, we appointed an energy task team of people from across the various units in the City of Tshwane. To look at the critical issues of how we can become more independent of Eskom. Basically, they are looking at generating and procuring at least a thousand megawatts of electricity in the next three years. The City of Tshwane uses about 2600 megawatts. So that will have a significant impact on our energy independence from Eskom. We obviously also have to look at the configuration of our network.”

Climate Action Plan

Brink says the City has a climate action plan to allow diverse energy generation.

“We do have a climate action plan, but surely we do not want to rely only on coal completely. But the reality is that coal does form part of the energy mix in South Africa. And so we will have to take measures such as planting trees, which will ease the carbon footprint. But solar-generated electricity is also a very important part of the mix that we will eventually have.”

The metro believes it has the expertise to generate its own electricity. But according to the City’s Chief Economist and Member of the Energy Task Team, Lardo Stander, there’s a need to engage the power supply regulatory body, NERSA, as well as the expertise of private sector investment, to fulfil this massive dream.

“So, currently, what we see in the market is that Eskom does not allow certain types of power to be offset against stages of load shedding. But obviously, that will form part of our negotiation with NERSA and our engagement with Eskom in the run-up to the generation of power here. In terms of our proposal is to ensure that every single one of our staff is accommodated within the private sector party. But obviously we will have to see what the proposals are like. And what those specific price features are like when we do issue those RFPs to private sector.”

Public participation is not left behind. The Chairperson of the Energy Task Team, Sello Mphaga, touches on the targeted time frames.

“Depending on the outcome of that public participation, we will take it back to council at the end of October, when we would then get the indication of whether council do allow us to continue with the issuing of the RFP; particularly for Rooiwal. And around February or so, after evaluation, we expect that for Rooiwal, we should be issuing contracts at the latest around the end of this financial year, which is around June 2024.”

Eskom’s constant power cuts is worsened by ongoing vandalism of infrastructure, resulting in communities experiencing prolonged, unscheduled outages.

The City says the plan is not to take over the running of the power stations but to use the infrastructure to generate energy supply.

Cllr Cilliers Brink’s media briefing on the City’s Energy Master Plan: