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Upbeat Ramokgopa commits to tackling criticism of new rules to prevent grid-hogging

Upbeat Ramokgopa commits to tackling criticism of new rules to prevent grid-hogging
Minister of Electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa at the announcement of the 2023 National Order Awards on 28 April 2023 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Frennie Shivambu)

Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa was upbeat for a second week running during a media briefing on Sunday during which he reported a stabilisation of the grid and reduction in rolling blackouts. He also planned to consult with critics of Eskom’s new grid capacity allocation rules over the next few weeks.

New rules that are meant to prevent “grid-hogging” have raised concerns but the Minister of electricity, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, is positive these rules and other changes will result in rolling blackouts simmering down until they’re a thing of the past. 

Briefing the media in Pretoria on Sunday 2 July on the implementation of the Energy Action Plan, he responded to a question on the criticism raised after the release of the Interim Grid Capacity Allocation Rules last week.

The new rules announced  by Eskom outline guidelines to allocate access to the country’s electricity grid. 

Ramokgopa said that he had had reports that “the requirements are a bit more onerous”, and he would sit down with critics to hear what the issues are in coming weeks.

“What we are trying to resolve is that there are projects that have earned the right to the grid and they are not coming to a financial close, which then amounts to hogging the grid, locking out other potential projects that are ready to connect to the grid, that are about to get to a financial close, the only impediment [being] access to the grid, we need to find a solution and that is what Eskom was trying to do,” said Ramokgopa.

See Ramokgopa’s presentation here:

The rules have been changed from a first-come-first-served basis to creating more boxes to tick before access can be granted. This allows for projects that are ready to have access, and then to get off when they reach their financial close, as opposed to having access before they are ready and staying on for prolonged periods, thus hogging the grid.

The regulations have raised concerns from various experts and corporations. South African Independent Power Producers Association chairperson Brian Day has been reported as saying the new rules were “dysfunctional” because they require grid connection to be done right at the end, and can be harder to explain to funders and banks as one will not know if they have secured a grid connection until they have ticked all the boxes. 

Stability of the grid

Ramokgopa emphasised the importance of building energy resilience at his briefing and pointed to various signs of recovery over recent weeks that had reduced the reliance on rolling blackouts. 

See Daily Maverick’s report on Ramokgopa’s briefing to the media last week here: “Minister Ramokgopa claims ‘major victories’”

“With regard to the grid we are going to take leadership, it’s about what it takes to build energy resilience. I’m not standing here to preserve the balance sheet of Eskom, I’m here to protect the sovereign and build energy resilience. The solution does not sit with Eskom, we are doing everything possible outside of Eskom as well, to make sure we provide,” Ramakgopa said 

Ramokgopa’s brief detailed why rolling blackouts are on stage 3 in a day giving 14 hours of electricity per day. He said their aim is to have the stages decreased until there is no load shedding in a 24-hour circle. 

Ramokgopa broke down the numbers, saying “numbers are important to mark our progress, these past five days. The capacity available now is beginning to plateau at 29,000 mw,” from 26 June, the numbers were around 28,000 mw, so this is a difference of over 1,000 mw. 

Ramokgopa appeared upbeat about improved consistency with less erratic patterns, which is why there hasn’t been stage 6 load-shedding in the past six weeks.

Eskom also briefed citizens on Sunday 2 July, stating rolling blackouts would continue to be suspended until 4pm daily. 

“Due to consistent available generation capacity, load shedding will continue to be suspended from midnight until 16:00 and Stage 3 load shedding will remain in force from 16:00 until midnight. This pattern will be repeated daily until further notice,” it stated.

Read in Daily Maverick: How to reduce your electricity usage by at least 30% without sacricifice

Capacity and generation

Ramokgopa said that there had been improvements in capacity and electricity generation as well. “We are building a room, which allows us to have planned maintenance, and philosophy maintenance… The area that still requires attention is one of partial load losses, units that are operating but they are not at their optimal capacity … we are not able to extract [energy] and fully explore these units,” said Ramokgopa.

The other challenge highlighted in previous updates is outage slips, which is a delay in returning electricity as scheduled.

He encouraged South Africans to continue to use electricity sparingly, demand was projected to be 34,000 mw but has been about 3,000 mw less. Generation of electricity is meant to far outweigh demand and Ramokgopa says this will depend on financial robustness and getting a break to be able to do maintenance.

When asked about sabotage within Eskom, the minister said the investigations are ongoing and the relevant law enforcement agencies will address the media.

To track the days and stages of rolling blackouts in South Africa, see the Outlier here.

Amid consistent rolling blackouts, Ramokgopa was appointed Minister of Electricity in the Presidency in March this year, but only received his delegated ministerial powers two months later on 26 May. DM 



Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Johan Buys says:

    Maybe the start of this explanation is that the government provide a list of exactly who – other than winning IPP vendors – were granted what grid capacity for how much money per capacity in the past decade? When we do the who – provide the beneficial owner detail as per FICA of the lucky recipients…

  • Alley Cat says:

    I still don’t believe that some miracle has happened to increase the energy availability factor due to the appointment of disciple Ramokgopa. I smell a large rodent in the form of imminent elections and the only explanation I can think of is reduced maintenance, which is typical of the ANC. i.e. kick the can further down the road.

    • Alan Watkins says:

      Reduced planned (preventative) maintenance (about half of previous) and more used of diesel powered turbines have already been confirmed. What has not been confirmed is that the ANC and Eskom are also hoping and praying that they spin out the lower load shedding until after the election when preventative maintenance will likely quadruple. Remember we went through this before with Brian Molefe. As detailed in Andre de Ruyters’s book, after Molefe was appointed CEO, he cut back back on preventative maintenance, loadshedding miraculously disappeared so much so that Eskom employees apparently gave Molefe a huge trophy since he had eliminated load shedding. But of course that did not last long……

  • Louis Potgieter says:

    Thanks for talking about milliwatt (mw?) capacity.

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