From 1 to 100 Megawatt: a statutory context to President Ramaphosa’s bold step
An announcement on 10 June 2021 by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa that electricity generation up to 100 Megawatt (MW) would no longer require a license from NERSA – the National Energy Regulator of South Africa – was met with relief and some measure of excitement. The reaction was not surprising for more reasons than one. South Africa is suffering from a long-lasting, stuttering and unpredictable electricity supply system, with ‘load shedding’ (or deliberate power interruptions) occurring periodically and remaining an ever-present possibility. Often industry was required to reduce consumption during periods of load shedding for the limping state-owned electricity generator, transmitter and distributor Eskom to ‘keep the lights on’. Long before the Covid pandemic started taking its toll, heavy government regulation through a system of licensing, failing governance and management, poor planning and maintenance, corruption and a deep reliance on fossil fuels, coal in particular, had a stranglehold on electricity generation in South Africa. Any step, therefore, to open up the system is guaranteed to be embraced, as could be seen with the roll out of the Renewable Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP), even when it was done without much haste.
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