Western Cape Municipalities urged to bolster loadshedding plans

Premier Alan Winde convened an extended Provincial Cabinet meeting to further discuss the Western Cape Government’s (WCG) contingency plan in the face of ongoing national loadshedding. It follows an urgent Cabinet meeting on Sunday when Eskom implemented stage 6 power cuts. Mayors and other municipal officials from across the province, as well as Provincial Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Thembisile Patekile, were also part of yesterday’s meeting.

While loadshedding has been slightly eased, the Western Cape Government and the province’s municipalities are determined to not let their guard down. All municipalities appraised the WCG of their respective contingency measures.

The Premier emphasised: “It is important we continue to plan for all scenarios as mass power cuts persist.”

We have preparation plans in place,” he reiterated. The purpose of the extended Cabinet meeting was to focus on specific service delivery areas which will be affected if loadshedding is prolonged or worsens.

The Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) said a national blackout situation is remote. Nevertheless, the current, ceaseless cuts are costing us both in government revenue and economic growth and opportunities.

One major concern was diesel supply, particularly at health care facilities. Currently, supplies are adequate. The WCG maintains regular contact with the South Africa Petroleum Industry Association. While diesel supply is not a challenge at this stage, maintaining adequate stock is costly. Since April 2022, the Provincial Department of Health and Wellness spent more than R53 million on a range of budget items including fuel, oil, and medical gas to keep health care facilities running during power cuts. 161 health facilities have installed generators or UPS systems.

A key recommendation in the provincial contingency plan is for Departments and municipalities to continuously assess their readiness and risks. Departments have activated their business continuity plans to keep services on track and local governments in the province, which also have readiness plans, are urged to do the same.

The WCG’s various energy resilience interventions were also highlighted. This includes the Western Cape’s Department of Economic Development which is running the Municipal Energy Resilience (MER) initiative to support municipalities in becoming energy resilient.

Over the last financial year, as part of this project, significant work has been completed in unlocking municipal direct procurement of renewable energy from Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

To support this work, the Municipal Energy Resilience Fund was set up to fund 13 preparatory studies at 8 Western Cape municipalities. These studies include Electricity Master Plans, Energy Master Plans, and Cost of Supply Studies, and are currently under way.

On the education front, 41 schools in the province have now applied to install solar panels to keep teaching and learning on track during power disruptions. This will also help reduce electricity costs. The combined peak capacity of these installations is 25.87 MWp. More than 20 schools have replaced existing lights with energy-saving LED lights, through a pilot project in conjunction with the University of Stellenbosch.

The Premier stressed the Provincial Government will keep working closely with all municipalities to guide the province through this crisis. The WCG also maintains direct lines of communication with Eskom.

Premier Winde again urged all residents to do their bit to save electricity where they can. He also urged the national government to put its full weight behind supporting Eskom to fix our energy system and unlock investment in new generation. “These interventions are critical to our economy, which needs to grow to support our residents in putting food on the table and creating opportunities for themselves,” he concluded.


 

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