Tshwane’s Big Power Play: A Shift in Strategy for Dormant Power Stations

From Dormant to Dynamic: In a move to end a hefty R300 million annual drain on its coffers, the City of Tshwane is contemplating a strategic shift for its non-operational Rooiwal and Pretoria West power stations. Despite these stations not generating power for over a decade, the municipality’s been keeping the lights on—quite literally at their own cost.

Key Points:

  • Past Expenditure: Close to R300 million is splashed out each year on these non-operational stations. That’s salaries for staff and maintenance costs for stations that have been silent since 2012.
  • The New Gameplan: Hand the reins over to independent power producers (IPPs). Tshwane’s opening up a public participation process to get feedback on this potential lease.

“A positive outcome of the public participation process and the subsequent Council endorsement will unlock much-needed electricity-generating capacity…” – Tshwane Mayor Cilliers Brink.

Ensuring Fair Play: Mayor Brink assures a transparent, competitive, and fair process without leaning towards any specific power provider.

What’s Next: Once the public has its say, the proposal heads back to the council for a final decision on whether they’ll float a Request for Proposals (RFP).

“Depending on the outcome of that public participation, we will… get an indication on whether council will allow us to continue with the issuing of an RFP,” – Sello Mphaga, Tshwane Municipality’s head honcho of sustainability.

The Backstory: The municipality floated the idea of leasing these power stations to IPPs for a 40-year stint this September. According to Mayor Brink, while the city can give a turbine a whirl, they lack the funds for a full revival.

“You’re going to have to have capital investment here…” Eyewitness News captures Brink’s sentiment. He pushes for a broad approach to energy independence.

The Human Factor: Imagine clocking in daily at a dormant power plant. As per a News24 revelation, that’s been the reality for the Rooiwal power station staff. Their frustrations are palpable.

“We have been doing nothing for ten years. We want to leave here…” one exasperated staff member voiced.

The Economic Angle: Lardo Stander, Tshwane’s chief economist, lays it bare: these stations have bled the metro dry of more than R1 billion in direct costs over a decade. And that’s not even factoring in the lost revenue potential, possibly soaring into the billions.

Also Read:   South Africa's Just Energy Transition: Funding and Commitments

While the power stations might have been dormant, the debate around them is anything but. The coming months should reveal whether Tshwane’s power play will light up its future or leave it in the dark.