SA's new era of energy

28 independent power producers secured their contract terms with the Energy Dept.

Energy Minister Dipuo Peters. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

CENTURION - The signing of purchase agreements with 28 independent power producers has been hailed as the dawn of a new era of energy production in South Africa.

The companies put pen to paper, securing their contract terms with the Energy Department at a signing ceremony in Centurion on Monday evening.

Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said the the projects would provide much needed investment in underdeveloped regions of the country, and help alleviate poverty.

"The projects are expected to add 1,400 megawatts to the grid and bring investments to the tune of R47 billion. It is evident that the job opportunities and skill upgrading opportunities will be very critical."

Eskom's divisional executive, Kannan Lakmeeharan, said the project was the first long term power purchase agreement with independent producers in decades, and the first in a democratic South Africa.

"It also sees the introduction of renewable energy power production into the power grid for the first time on a significant scale."

Lakmeeharan said they would also work to ensure the industry does not lose skills and expertise they are creating.

The companies say there are significant benefits for consumers, and the country as a whole.

One company executive said, "It's the beginning of an industry. There's going to be a pump for infrastructure and development into the country, which means growth."

While another said, "A diversified energy mix means more energy security for the consumer. But it also means the consumer is participating in what is a good movement globally."