Stellenbosch municipality plans to ditch Eskom and find its own power

The municipality says it wants to do away with load-shedding

29 January 2021 - 07:00
By belinda pheto AND Belinda Pheto
Stellenbosch wants to explore opportunities that could lead to independence from Eskom and the end of load-shedding.
Image: 123RF/loganban Stellenbosch wants to explore opportunities that could lead to independence from Eskom and the end of load-shedding.

Stellenbosch could soon ditch Eskom as its electricity supplier.

On Wednesday, the municipal council adopted a resolution to start investigating the use of alternative electricity supplies. According to a statement by mayor Gesie van Deventer, the joint investigation will focus on various potential sources of energy production, including rooftop solar panels, methane mining, allowing the public to generate electricity and sell this to the municipality, purchasing electricity directly from registered independent power producers, and the possible selling of electricity to willing buyers from outside their municipal area.

Deventer said with blackouts and load-shedding frequently sweeping across the country, it has become imperative for municipalities to start investigating other energy sources and said their decision puts Stellenbosch in the lead to potentially become the first municipality in the country to eliminate load-shedding.

“The promulgation of the Electricity Regulation Act in October 2020 opened the door for municipalities to start investigating how they can generate their electricity and purchase it from independent power producers (IPP). We are proud to be the first out of the starting blocks in this regard,” reads her statement.

The mayor admitted that while there is still a long road ahead in the battle against load-shedding, the decision marks the official start of a journey for Stellenbosch that may culminate in energy independence and long-term energy sustainability.

“The adoption of this report by the council paves the way for an investigation into the need, viability and opportunities to be conducted,” she said.

Van Deventer said in addition to benefiting from years of sustained good governance, the municipality is in the fortunate position of having some of the brightest minds in the energy sector right on its doorstep.

“We will be able to make use of brilliant internal research entities, experts at the University of Stellenbosch, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Western Cape government as part of our joint investigation,” she said.

Attempts to get comment from Eskom on Thursday night were unsuccessful.