Mon, 11 Dec 2023

Country's parliament says proposed legislation aims to create more electricity, more transmission companies and more competition

South Africa's parliament said it plans to hold more public hearings on the country's proposed Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill, which is expected to pave the way for a new transmission company and to allow for competitive energy trading.

The public engagements phase forms part of the legislative process for the Bill, Zet Luzipo, chairperson of the parliament's mineral resources and energy committee, said on Saturday, according to local media.

"The Bill aims to effect changes to the Electricity Regulation Act in order to provide for additional electricity generation capacity and infrastructure, as well as the establishment of the Transmission System Operator SOC Ltd," the Independent Online quoted Luzipo as saying.

The Bill, approved by the government in March, was tabled in parliament in late August after the independent association Business Leadership South Africa criticized an apparent delay in the legislative process.

South Africa has been subjected to years of load shedding (enduring regular power outages) as state-owned electricity provider Eskom struggled to meet demand due to frequent breakdowns at its aging coal-fired power stations.

According to Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, more than 600,000 people lost their jobs due to power outages last year, and more jobs could be lost as a result of the ongoing crisis.

In April, the government in Pretoria lifted a state of emergency it had declared in February to deal with Eskom's daily rolling power cuts.

On Saturday, Luzipo reportedly said the public hearings in Limpopo province had provided the committee with a better understanding of the people's frustrations and concerns regarding the bill.

While some residents believe the creation of Eskom's proposed new competitors will stabilize the electricity sector, others are concerned about skyrocketing electricity prices once the new players enter the market.

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