Concerns over increased electricity costs raised in the Limpopo public hearings on the ERA bill

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Johnathan Paoli

Residents of the Sekhukhune District Municipality raised concerns about the possible increase in costs for the consumer under the proposed changes of the Electricity Regulation Amendment (ERA) bill.

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The Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy conducted public hearings on the bill at the Lutheran Church in Motetema, outside Groblersdal last week.

The bill aims to effect changes to the Electricity Regulation Act, providing for additional electricity generation capacity and infrastructure, as well as the establishment of the Transmission System Operator SOC Ltd.

The draft legislation is expected to facilitate an open market platform that will allow for competitive electricity trading; and to assign the duties, powers and functions of the transmission system operator to the National Transmission Company South Africa SOC Ltd.

The Bill received mixed reactions, with those who supported it telling the committee that it would be beneficial to have more electricity companies, help address the current shortage of electricity, bring to an end the challenges of load shedding and remove pressure from the country’s power utility.

Another important issue raised by the participants was the requirement that the new companies being provided for, must empower the youth and prioritise qualified South African citizens for employment.

One of the critiques raised was concerns over the vagueness of the bill and that redrafting was needed to clarify and clearly define the roles of the state companies and the private sector as well as on how specifically the public would benefit.

The committee ended its Limpopo leg with the final public hearing held at the Bela-Bela Multipurpose Centre in the Waterberg District Municipality.

“Now that we are done here in Limpopo, we still have eight other provinces to conduct public hearings on the Bill. We hope to be done with the public consultations by the end of November this year and we thank everyone for their input especially the fact that all inputs were relevant and spoke to exactly what the Bill is about,”said committee Chairperson Mr Sahlulele Luzipo.

The committee visited Vhembe, Mopani, Sekhukhune and Waterberg districts in the province to solicit public inputs on the draft legislation, and started conducting the Mpumalanga public hearings on the bill in KaMaqhekeza Community Hall, Nkomazi local municipality on Monday.

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