Mayor fights to keep Joburg’s lights on
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Johannesburg – Mayor Mpho Moerane says he has been doing his best to keep the lights on in Joburg’s townships, including Soweto, and the city’s affluent areas.
Moerane told The Star his relationship with Eskom had become strained because of his continuous fight with the utility over load shedding and load reduction.
Moerane said he was upset that the City of Joburg had been pressured to place residents under load shedding despite having acquired power from the privately-owned Kelvin power station, which was supposed to add to the city’s energy grid.
For the mayor, the only way to protect Joburg from load shedding was through alternative energy sources and ensuring that City Power could generate and supply alternative power.
The City recently sealed a two-year power purchase agreement on the privately owned Kelvin Power Station, which has since confirmed an additional 220MW for the city.
Moerane said he had met Eskom officials and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan to try to understand why the City should implement load shedding to some of its residents.
Moerane said he only understood the challenges that Eskom was facing after the meeting.
“Our relationship has been rocky. The City Power CEO wrote to the CEO of Eskom requesting that since we have additional power we can be exempted from stages 1 and 2, and we had no reply from Eskom.
’’On Saturday, when I got a message that they were implementing load shedding, I must say I was very angry and I issued a statement,” Moerane said.
He said the City was considering protecting some areas that were under City Power from load shedding. Areas like Soweto and Sandton would soon fall under City Power and enjoy supply from the City of Joburg.
“The City is a key customer of Eskom. We pay over R1 billion a month for the electricity from Eskom, so Eskom must think for our residents who are paying. For our townships, we don’t have control, Eskom is still supplying.”
Moerane yesterday announced a number of plans to aid the City in ensuring residents do not have to endure excessive load shedding.
He said the City was embarking on creating alternative ways to generate electricity, including renewable energy.
The mayor said the John Ware Diesel Turbines in Fordsburg would be converted to gas. The facility produces 38MW and when once converted to gas it will produce 100MW.
Private businesses which were able to help the city generate electricity would be able to tender for the projects. The mayor said there were three power stations in the city and all would be used to generate electricity for the city residents.
The City was looking at building a renewable energy plant in Avalon and there were plans to use some city roof tops for solar power. The plan was to make the City self-sustainable and less reliant on Eskom.