Amendment bill will change face of electricity in SA – Ramokgopa

The recent passing of the Electricity Regulation Amendment (ERA) Bill in the National Assembly is of “tectonic proportions” to South Africa’s electricity sector.

This is according to the Minister in the Presidency responsible for Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa.

“This is significant because it’s beginning to reshape the South African energy landscape,” Ramokgopa said.

“One of the primary interventions that it introduces is making it easier to produce and sell electricity in South Africa.

“In order to do this, [the bill] establishes what it refers to as the transmission system operator, which is managed by the [National Transmission Company South Africa], wholly owned by Eskom, and by extension, wholly owned by the South African public.”

Opening up the market

Ramokgopa was addressing the media on the implementation of the Energy Action Plan, which is aimed at stabilising power supply in the country.

The minister explained that the ERA Bill opens up the market for more players in the electricity sector.

He said: “It ensures that all electricity producers are treated equally and fairly and are allowed access to the national grid on a non-discriminatory basis.

“It enables a market platform through which electricity can be bought and sold by multiple players.

“In addition to a non-discriminatory approach, it democratises the space so that we are able to ensure that there are multiple sources that generate, there are multiple buyers, and they are going to go through this platform to be able to procure that electricity.”

The minister said the benefits to the public and economy are numerous, with the country “moving away from a monopoly” on electricity.

Reliability of power supply

An upside to the ERA Bill is the improvement in reliability of electricity supply, and consumers will have more choice in who supplies electricity.

“As I stand before you, every time we announce the improvement in the stages of loadshedding and the improvement in supply, the focus is primarily on Eskom and a few of the players in the renewable energy industry.

“With the introduction of the reforms, the more players we have on the map means that there is more generation capacity, and it’s able to stabilise the supply, so there’s increased reliability.

“The other [upside] is that it offers choice to consumers. They can choose what they are getting from Eskom, from utility providers, and from multiple providers.

“We are introducing choice in how you are going to procure this new generation.”

Ramokgopa added that this new path will also pave the way for increased investment and innovation.

More players on the generation side

“With this democratisation of the space or non-discriminatory nature that you can access the transmission grid, it simply means that it is possible to have additional players on the generation side.

“The more additional players you have, [the more you can] increase investment in the energy generation space.

“It’s also going to increase innovation and introduce efficiency. For you to survive as a new source of energy, you have to come at a price point that is better than the existing players.

“For that to happen, it means that there has to be a drive in relation to the adoption of new technologies; there must be a degree of innovation.

“This is the remaking of the energy landscape in the country. It’s of tectonic proportions [and] is something fundamentally profound that has been introduced.” –

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