In a surprise move, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that the government will increase the generation threshold for companies to produce their own electricity without a licence to 100MW.
The move to increase this figure came as a shock because it’s far higher than the 10MW mooted by minerals resource minister Gwede Mantashe in his departmental budget speech just a few weeks ago.
Back then Mantashe said the department chose this cap, instead of the 50MW called for by many in the business world, as there was no demand for it. In the speech, he cited a survey which has had its accuracy called into question.
During the media briefing, Mantashe acknowledged that Ramaphosa played some part in getting him to change his mind.
“The president was twisting my arm to move in this direction.”
The sudden move to increase the cap comes as the scale of rolling blackouts, commonly referred to load shedding has increased over the past few days. Breakdowns at the power utility, Eskom’s, ageing fleet of coal-fired power stations has seen it go from Level 1 to Level 4 over the past few days.
The deepening of the crisis has spurred the government to not only increase the cap of how much can be provided but also who they can provide to.
Ramaphosa says that companies looking to generate 100MW are free to sell to third parties, but in doing so they still have to abide by the regulations set out by the sector regulator, Nersa.
Mantashe said that if all goes to plan, companies will be allowed to self generate within 60 days of the gazetting of the changes to the regulations.