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Cape Town’s power procurement aims for four-stages of load-shedding protection

Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis briefed the City Council  on progress with the three-phase procurement for load-shedding protection. Two major tenders have already been issued, have closed, and are in assessment phase; with the third and biggest one to be issued in a matter of weeks. The plan is to provide protection from the first four stages of Eskom’s load-shedding within three years.

‘It is with a sense of renewed determination that I can update residents and Council on the detail of our three-phase procurement for Load-shedding Protection, with the goal of protecting residents from the first four stages of Eskom’s load-shedding.

‘We have already made much progress on the first of our three-phase procurement for Load-shedding protection, with a 200MW procurement of renewable energy concluded last year.

‘Tenders are to be awarded in the coming months, with the procurement now in the evaluation phase of technical proposals received from IPPs,’ said Mayor Hill-Lewis.

The Mayor further confirmed that the City is working with the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on grid integration studies to determine when and where these IPPs will feed power into Cape Town’s grid.

‘The second of the three-phase procurement for load-shedding protection takes the form of our Power Heroes programme.

‘The initiative is based on paying residents incentives for voluntary energy savings, which will entail automated remote switching off of power-intensive devices at peak times. The “demand response tender” for this programme, launched in October last year, is currently in the evaluation phase, and will also be awarded within the coming months,’ said Mayor Hill-Lewis.

Finally, the third phase of procurement will be launched this February. This will take the form of a Dispatchable Energy tender, expected to yield around 500MW for our grid.

‘This tender will not only focus on renewable energy, as the first phase of our Load-shedding Protection Plan, but will include all-important dispatchable technologies, such as battery storage and gas to power. These power sources need to generate power for a significant portion of the day to support our load-shedding protection efforts.

‘Importantly, these dispatchable supply sources need not be located in a City-supply area. We are expecting enough progress on this three-Phase procurement – and our other deliverables – to provide at least four stages of load-shedding protection within three years.

‘Procuring 500MW will go a long way to ending load shedding over time, given that a single load-shedding stage requires the City to shutdown around 60MW. We will add future phases to this plan in time, potentially including more renewables procurement and utility-scale battery storage,’ said the Mayor.

Mayor Hill-Lewis further noted that President Cyril Ramaphosa had cancelled his trip to Davos apparently to deal with the crisis, but was unable to give South Africa any reassurance that there was a serious plan.

‘Incredibly, Eskom has still not begun the recruitment process to replace Mr de Ruyter – despite having received his resignation in mid-December. This means Eskom will almost certainly be without a CEO from March, just as the colder months start to bite and the demand for power goes up.

‘I am afraid that the President’s lack of firm leadership does not bode well. And it pains me to say that he has utterly failed to confront the crisis with any sense of urgency.

‘Here in Cape Town, we will not go gently into that good night, as the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas famously wrote; we will rage, rage against the dying of the light. We will not be forever wedded to Eskom’s dwindling supply alone. We will seek our own independent supply. We will not be forever wedded to their crushing, hyper-inflationary increases, even as families struggle to make ends meet in this load-shedding-shattered economy.

‘We look forward to a future of cheaper renewable power meaning cheaper power for consumers,’ said Mayor Hill-Lewis.

 Adjustment Budget on Council’s agenda

The annual Adjustment Budget also served on Council’s agenda.

‘Today we table the adjustment budget, which takes a range of resilience measures to protect our city from national state failure.

The budget includes R117 million for fuel – driven by rising diesel costs and the need to constantly run generators to keep basic services infrastructure going.

We are further buying generators worth over R17m, as we steadily install back-up power at our critical facilities.

An amount of R20 million is set aside for additional maintenance at Steenbras to keep this load-shedding protection facility in tip-top shape.

There are several further items in the budget relating to security from theft and vandalism at City facilities, as well as at construction sites, to prevent the derailing of projects due to safety threats,’ said Mayor Hill-Lewis.

Besides these resilience measures, there are several items to enhance services, including:

  • R33m for mowing requirements
  • R16m for top-up cleaning on main arterial routes and CBDs
  • R35m for the pothole repair programme, with R100m more to come in the main budget

‘Finally, it is of great encouragement to announce that this R32m writedown in capital spending – at just 0,19% of capex budget – is the smallest in history.

Importantly, the writedown results from technical changes in the timelines on bridging finance from national government to Urban Mobility, and not due to poor planning or execution of infrastructure delivery.

‘We said last year that capital budgets must be spent – it is the first job of a city to be constantly investing in critical infrastructure, and caring for that which we have,’ concluded the Mayor.


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