Gwede Mantashe, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, finally gave the necessary official green light for the construction of the 2,000 MW emergency power supply.
The so-called Art. 34 provision was published in the Government Gazette on Tuesday , five months after Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa, in his State of the Nation address, announced that the government would intervene to ease Eskom’s load shedding with extra emergency power generation.
In December 2019, Mantashe’s department invited proposals for emergency power from 2,000 MW to 3,000 MW, but it seems that the need has now been reduced to just 2,000 MW.
The 2,000 MW must be delivered before December 2021. The provision under the Electricity Regulation Act now paves the way for a tender process by which private independent power producers can apply for power generation projects, but they will be obliged to sell the power to Eskom.
The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy will oversee the procurement process for the emergency power resources.
Mantashe said in February that his department had received 481 private sector proposals on potential power generation.
It is not just Mantashe’s fault that it took so long before the provision was published. The National Energy Regulator (Nersa) must also be part of the blame.
Rapport had earlier reported that Nersa had waited nearly a month before launching a public participation process on the ministerial provision. Mantashe submitted the proposed provision to Nersa as early as February.
Prof. Anton Eberhard, a retired energy expert at the University of Cape Town’s graduate business school, said Nersa first wanted to ask all kinds of nonsensical questions about the provision, such as whether coal power should be part of the provision. No coal-fired power plant can be built so quickly, and such questions are nonsensical, Eberhard argued.