Wednesday, August 17, 2022

SA opposition party pushes for power cut to Botswana

South Africa’s main opposition party, The Democratic Alliance (DA), announced this week that it will ask Parliament to review Eskom’s sale of electricity to Botswana and other regional countries. A press statement by DA President Helen Zille revealed that the South African official opposition was particularly unhappy with Eskom’s supply to Botswana because Parliament was recently told that the sale agreement between Botswana and Eskom had lapsed in 2012. This was in response to a parliamentary question by a DA Member of Parliament. In her statement, Zille charged that despite the information that was presented to Parliament, “Eskom has confirmed as recently as two weeks ago that it still supplies Botswana with electricity.” “It is unacceptable that we continue to supply electricity to neighbouring countries when we cannot supply our country sufficiently”, she said. These sentiments were echoed by DA MP Wilmot James adding on to the groundswell of opinion especially by the South African media questioning the wisdom behind exporting electricity when South Africa is reeling from load shedding. “We will request Parliamentary hearings to review the preferential supply agreements that South Africa has with neighbouring countries. There is no good reason why these agreements should not be put on hold, or cancelled, immediately to alleviate our current energy shortage,” she said. Zille’s statement has raised questions about the sale agreement between Botswana Power Corporations and Eskom. It emerged that, apparently because of political pressure, Eskom has not renewed its sale agreement with BPC for 200 megawatts with expired in July last year. Instead Eskom makes the 200 megawatts available to BPC on a day-ahead basis, meaning the hourly prices of the power on any day are set the previous day. Under the day-ahead system, BPC submits its orders to Eskom, after which supply and demand are compared and the market price is calculated for each hour of the following day. This is a very expensive pricing structure because of the current power shortage. The new arrangement came after the expiry in July 2013 of a seven-month non-firm contract the BPC enjoyed with Eskom under which it received the 200 MW depending on South Africa’s own requirement. “Eskom did consider an extension of the request to continue the additional 200MW supply to Botswana on a non-firm basis, “states Eskom spokesperson Dikatso Mothae. “In considering such a request Eskom considers its own supply commitments and its projected supply-demand balance. Eskom provides the additional up to 200MW on a day-ahead basis (and) Botswana therefore continues to receive power in addition to the 100MW. “We have not signed a new agreement formalising this, but have committed to continue the supply subject to availability”, Mothae was quoted saying six months ago. As things stand now, indications are that Botswana and Eskom currently have a firm agreement for only 100 megawatts, down from 550 megawatts in the initial agreement, which was revised to 350 megawatts in 2007. On Friday, a source at Morupule B power plant confirmed that unit one which was the only one up and running after units two, three and four experienced technical glitches also “tripped today in the morning and engineers are working on it as we speak.” He said operators of the plant were to blame because they “are not familiar with operating the boilers of this plant.”

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