Eskom reiterates stance and says Rural Maintenance continues to mislead public

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  • Eskom says it is concerned about the misleading statements made to the media by Rural Maintenance.
  • They refer to a Newzroom Afrika interview with Chris Bosch, CEO of Rural Maintenance, broadcasted on 18 May 2023.

“Although Eskom has repeatedly explained and proven to Rural Maintenance that electricity generated from their solar plant is not enough to cover their demand and they therefore cannot be exempted from implementing loadshedding, Rural Maintenance continues to mislead the public” said Eskom in a statement.

“Simply put, if their generation was enough for their demand, Frankfort would be off-grid and thus would not be affected by any loadshedding. Assuming their dumping claim is also true, we met with Rural Maintenance twice in May and presented them with our Standard Offer. This entails that we wish to buy any excess electricity generated by their plant” – added Eskom

Eskom says that as per thier media statement issued on 21 April 2023, they welcome the use of electricity from independent power producers that can assist in alleviating loadshedding. “What we require from Rural Maintenance as a responsible participant in the national grid, is that they comply with the requirements of the Loadshedding Code of Practise in order to protect the national electricity network in the interest of the country as a whole,” they concluded.

The 4.26MW solar farm on the outskirts of Frankfort in the Free State province. Image credit: Rural Free State

Last month Judge Edwin Molahlehi delivered his judgement in a case where IPP Rural Maintenance and their special purpose vehicle (SPV), Rural Free State, entered into a trial agreement with Eskom in February to deliver power from a private and communally owned 4.26MW solar farm in Frankfort in the Free State province, to the Mafube Local Municipality, to reduce the level of loadshedding in the area.

The term to reduce the level of loadshedding by providing dedicated supplementary power to the grid is commonly known as ‘voiding’. The country’s state-owned power utility, Eskom, which owns the transmission and distribution infrastructure in the area needed to facilitate the ‘voiding’, backtracked on their agreement a month later informing Rural Free State on 16 March that they must stop ‘voiding’. Rural Free State then turned to the courts to uphold the agreement until the country’s energy regulator, NERSA, resolves the matter with the required licensing and consent.

But Mafube Municipality, who were consensual applicants to the case, failed to submit a signed affidavit confirming their consent to the arrangement. In his judgement, Molahlehi dismissed the case with costs citing that Rural Maintenance and Rural Free State did not receive the necessary authorisation (from Mafube Municipality), to file the case against Eskom.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal


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