Regulator approves 75 firms to generate their own power

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Energy and mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe.
Energy and mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe.

Minerals and energy minister Gwede Mantashe says energy regulator NERSA has already approved 75 applications from private companies wanting to generate energy for self-use.

He notes the applications came from individual households and companies, and most of them were mining companies.

The minister made this announcement when he briefed the media in Cape Town on Tuesday following his participation in the debate on president Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address.

“It’s a mix: households and companies. Of the big ones, there are quite a lot of mining companies and other industrial companies,” he said.

All in all, the energy regulator received 132 applications in this category, with a total capacity of 59MW.

Of these, 75 applications with total capacity of 42MW were approved.

The remaining 57 applications with total capacity of 16MW are being processed. On average, NERSA takes 38 working days to process applications for registration.

Mantashe said the unapproved applications did not supply sufficient information.

Licensing of generation for own use of above one megawatt (1MW), which is mainly to supplement power supply to commercial and industrial customers including the mines, has been eased.

Meanwhile, in December, the department went into the market to ask the sector for information on where it can get additional energy that can close the power shortage gap as Eskom goes through another phase of load-shedding due to planned and unplanned power outages.

“On the request for information, we received 481 responses. We are going through them to see who can give us energy within the next 12 months, the next 24 months, the next 36 months. So that is the stage we are in.”

Mantashe said to speed up the process of addressing the power-generation deficiency, regulations are being finalised that will enable municipalities to buy power from sources other than Eskom, or to develop their own power projects for generation of own power.

He said historically, metropolitan areas like Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Mangaung and others had their own power-generation capacity, largely coal-driven.

Mantashe said advances in distributed generation technology make it viable for municipalities to create their own power-generation, or buy power from projects developed within their jurisdiction.

“Cognisant of capacity challenges in most municipalities, also in the interest of security of supply, we are developing regulations to ensure regulatory certainty and in line with the Electricity Regulation Act, for municipalities to procure or develop their own power-generation.”

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