Eskom’s grid guru appointed as IPP Office head

Read time 3min 50sec

Tshifhiwa Bernard Magoro has been appointed the new head of the Independent Power Producers Office (IPPO).

This follows the axing of Karen Breytenbach, who oversaw the expansion of the country’s privately-owned renewable energy projects, in July last year.

At the time of her ouster, government said its decision to ask Breytenbach to leave followed issues of instability at the office.

Since then, advocate Sandra Coetzee has been acting head of the IPP Office.

The IPP Office is an agent of the Department of Mineral and Energy Resources, providing the necessary capacity for the implementation of the Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme and the related interventions.

The IPP Office provides monthly and quarterly reports to the energy department on all the different programmes and interventions.

Magoro’s appointment is effective from May. He is currently general manager of the Eskom System Operator and Eskom Telecommunications, responsible for ensuring the integrity of the South African electricity grid, including managing real-time electricity supply and demand balancing.

In November 2010, the energy department, National Treasury and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) entered into a memorandum of agreement to establish the IPPO. The DBSA provided the initial seed funding to establish the office.

In a statement, the DBSA says Magoro’s appointment comes after a rigorous recruitment process and on the recommendation of an interview panel, which consisted of representatives from the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, the National Treasury’s government technical advisory committee and the DBSA.

Magoro is an electrical engineer by profession and has over 20 years’ technical, managerial and leadership experience in the electricity supply industry, says the DBSA. It adds that he has held technical positions in planning, operations, project management, energy markets, regulation, compliance management, grid codes, benchmarking activities, as well as grid integration of different generation technologies (gas, coal and renewable energy).

Following the implementation of the country’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Programme, Magoro led the process that saw the development and enforcement of the first renewable grid code in South Africa, it notes.

He currently serves as a governing board member of the GO15, which is a group comprised of the 19 largest grid operators in the world. He was recently appointed to the Eskom Transmission Divisional Board.

Magoro holds the following qualifications: a BSc in Maths, Physics & Statistics from the University of Venda; a BSc in Electrical Engineering from the University of Cape Town; a B Comm from UNISA; an MBA from Wits Business School; and an LLB from UNISA.

Meanwhile, renewable energy industry body the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) has welcomed Magoro’s appointment, saying it trusts that the country’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REI4P) will be well-led and directed by Magoro.

“Mr Magoro is well-qualified for the role and brings along over 20 years of technical, managerial and leadership experience in the sector, in addition to having played a direct role in the REI4P’s development and enforcement of the first renewable grid code in South Africa,” says SAWEA CEO Ntombifuthi Ntuli.

SAWEA believes the well-established nature of the REI4P programme, combined with Magoro’s experience in the energy sector, will enable a smooth transition to the new leadership of the IPP Office and ease the implementation of the IRP 2019.

“We would like to commend advocate Sandra Coetzee for holding the reins as the interim head of the IPP Office from July 2019, and ensuring continuity in that office up to so far,” Ntuli says.

Another industry body, the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) says it “would like to congratulate Mr Tshifhiwa Bernard Magoro on his well-deserved appointment as the head of the Independent Power Producers Office.

“Given his qualifications and experience in the energy sector, we are reassured that Mr Magoro is well-suited for this role, and brings with him a wealth of knowledge. We look forward to constructive and positive engagements between the IPPO and the solar PV industry through SAPVIA. We will continue to contribute towards implementing the IRP 2019 and advancing renewable energy and solar PV specifically to support the energy security of the country.”

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