The mind boggles

Eskom holds the power monopoly in our country and any decision it makes about the future of electricity generation affects both our pockets and our quality of life.

Despite this we have pitifully little say over what Eskom decides. This is unsettling, because Eskom, like any big company, is really only worried about one thing: it’s bottom line, even if it’s our bottoms that are the ones on the line.

Eskom says its current financial plan does not support any new connections with independent power producers (IPPs), which generate clean energy from the sun and the wind. Considering its love affair with coal, maybe the real question Eskom should ask itself is not what its financial plan can support, but rather what our planet can’t support. Our planet can’t support more coal-fired power stations, the likes of Kusile and Medupi, which will see this country investing in increasingly expensive fossil fuels while renewables come down in price as they become ever more ubiquitous.

Maybe Eskom would also like to start up a VCR business or start manufacturing typewriters while it’s at it.

Noting that electricity from Eskom’s new power stations will cost between R1.05 cents to R1.20 a unit while electricity for PV solar and wind will cost between 60 and 80 cents a unit, Janine Myburgh, president of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has called Eskom’s decision “mind-boggling”. She argues that it is irrational to deny cities the right to buy clean energy at nearly half the price of power from “dirty coal-fire power stations”.

Mind-boggling, indeed.