Gauteng Premier’s power supply plans a mere pipe-dream

Mike Moriarty MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Finance

Gauteng Premier David Makhura’s plans for the province to generate its own electricity will not alleviate demand pressures in the short-term, and will in all likelihood take years to complete.

According to reports, the premier is hoping to add more than 300MW of electricity to the grid by building a number of power plants across the province, as well as a solar plant planned for the West Rand.

While the DA commends any plan to bolster the province’s electricity generation capacity, coal fired power stations need coal supply, water for cooling and expansive tracts of stable ground – none of which are available in Gauteng.

Solar plants are not viable either. Hail occurs far too frequently in the province, and will cause extensive damage to glass-fronted photo-voltaic cells, while nuclear and gas require extensive infrastructure spend and resources not readily available.

Although the premier will reveal further details in next year’s State of the Province Address (SOPA), it will be years before his plans come to fruition.

Feasibility studies need to be conducted, land needs to be identified, environmental impact studies must be completed and projects must go out to tender before construction even starts.

Once started, there are no guarantees that projects would be completed within deadline and budget, as past experience has shown that major capital projects almost never do.

Gauteng, like the rest of South Africa, needs an immediate solution to relieve demand pressure, and the solution lies in private sector companies and independent power producers.

However, the ANC has for ideological reasons prevented President Zuma from signing into law the Independent System and Market Operator (ISMO) Bill, allowing independent power producers to supply to the grid.

Premier Makhura and the Gauteng ANC have once before broken ranks with their national counterparts in the interests of the province’s people, when the e-tolls review panel was established.

The premier and his cohorts should do so again and join the calls on the president to enact ISMO.