5 February 2008 – Failure to comply with the City of Cape Town’s 10 % energy saving strategy will incur penalties – but only from 2009. This, despite the urgent lack of electricity facing South Africa.

CFLCape Town mayor, Helen Zille announced proposals at the end of January to reduce power usage by 10 %, following a meeting with public enterprises minister Alec Erwin, minister of minerals and energy Buyelwa Sonjica, and Eskom CEO Jacob Maroga.

However, it was announced that any penalties imposed on companies for failing to comply would only be imposed in 2009, as the city is still investigating how the fine system would work.

"Right now the city is just giving advice on how residents and businesses can save," said mayoral spokesman, Robert McDonald. "If they don’t save and cut down, they will be hit with more power outages."

However, says Belinda Petri, an energy consultant, "warnings and voluntary solutions are often not sufficient. South Africa is in a crisis and it’s up to everyone to adapt their lifestyles accordingly.

"A simple example was the water shortage in Cape Town not too long ago.

"People were warned to use water sparingly, but still used it in excess. However when the city started rationing and implementing penalties, the water shortage was suddenly resolved.

"Maybe hefty bills and penalties are the answer."

Incentives for domestic and business consumers were something the government should also consider, Petri said.

"There have to be rewards for those playing the game, such as cheaper tariffs."

Among the proposals outlined are businesses operating without air conditioning for the next four years, unless vital to the operation of the business or it’s product; switching off all exterior lighting on business and council properties in the evenings and switching off geysers between 5pm and 10pm.

The mayor said that if every household focused on saving 10% of its electricity consumption, this would go a long way toward achieving the city’s goal.