A request to commence with an investigation into the use and generation of alternate electricity energy supplies was adopted by the Stellenbosch Council on 27 January.
This decision puts the South African municipality in the lead to potentially become the first municipality in the country to eliminate loadshedding.
The promulgation of the Electricity Regulation Act Regulations in October 2020 opened the door for municipalities to start investigating how they can generate their own electricity and purchase electricity from independent power producers (IPP).
“We are proud to be the first out of the starting blocks in this regard,” said the municipality’s Executive Mayor, Gesie van Deventer.
She added: “While there is still a long road ahead in the battle against loadshedding, today’s decision marks the official start of a journey for Stellenbosch Municipality that may culminate in energy independence and long-term energy sustainability. The adoption of this report by Council paves the way for an investigation into the need, viability and opportunities to be conducted.”
The Western Cape Government’s minister of finance and economic opportunities, David Maynier, welcomed the decision: “The fact is that loadshedding continues to severely impact businesses and the economy in the Western Cape. And so, we have worked hard to deliver a number of projects, including the recently launched MER Project, to mitigate the impact of loadshedding on the provincial economy.”
He added: “I am pleased to hear that we are able to support Stellenbosch Municipality through the MER Project, and I look forward to our continued efforts to do everything we can to support other municipalities to participate in the growing green energy sector so that together we can create a more energy resilient future in the Western Cape.”
Stellenbosch is best-positioned to lead
According to Van Deventer, in addition to benefitting from years of sustained good governance, the Municipality is in the fortunate position of having some of the brightest minds in the energy sector right on its doorstep.
“We will be able to make use of brilliant internal research entities, experts at the University of Stellenbosch, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Western Cape Government as part of our joint investigation,” she explained.
This joint investigation will focus on various potential sources of energy production, including rooftop solar panels, methane mining, allowing the public to generate electricity and sell this to the municipality, purchasing electricity directly from registered IPPs, and the possible selling of electricity to willing buyers from outside our municipal area.
“As South Africa’s leading Valley of Opportunity and Innovation, we look forward to walking alongside our research partners on the journey towards energy independence. We are committed to conducting our investigation in a scientifically-rigorous and transparent manner, and will be providing more details on this venture once the findings of the investigation are tabled before Council,” the Executive Mayor concluded.