- 18 days after the National State of Disaster was declared, regulations to address the disaster have been published.
- The regulations make provisions for exemptions from loadshedding and the procurement of power from anybody willing to sell it.
- Some infrastructure and activities are excluded from the National Environmental Management Act as part of these regulations.
On 9th February during the State of the Nation Address 2023, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a National State of Disaster.
On Monday, 18 days after this declaration, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma gazetted the Disaster Management Regulations.
The regulations seek to fulfil four key objectives:
- Minimise the impact of loadshedding on livelihoods, the economy, policing functions, national security, security services, education services, water services, food security, communications and municipal services;
- Reduce and manage the impact of loadshedding on service delivery to support lifesaving and specified critical infrastructure;
- Enable the connection of new generation supply, and;
- Improve Eskom’s plant performance.
One important area that is highlighted in the regulations is the provision of water through waterboards and municipalities. While these entities will be exempt from penalties incurred for exceeding the maximum demand during loadshedding. However, these entities will also need to revise their minimum operational levels.
These exemptions can be granted to other institutions as well however, these must be specified as essential infrastructure or services. Furthermore, exemptions mustn’t increase the risk of higher stages of loadshedding.
The list of essential infrastructure outlined in the regulations includes:
- Health Infrastructure including military health facilities,
- Water infrastructure including water treatment plants,
- Rail and ports infrastructure,
- Food production and food storage facilities where feasible,
- Critical electronic communications and broadcasting infrastructure.
Gov buying power
An exciting prospect within the regulations is “facilitating the sale of electricity generated by individuals, organs of state or private institutions to license distributors”. The City of Cape Town introduced a similar idea recently, but this would be for the entire country.
The regulations stipulate all emergency procurement will be subject to a range of finance management acts. Furthermore, the Auditor General will conduct real-time audits and report on accounts, financial statements and financial management of all emergency procurement.
This is exciting, but there is one regulation that has us concerned.
Under Section 5: Authority to issue directions, point i reads, “Excluding upgrades, refurbishments, adjustments and repairs of existing energy infrastructure and existing generation, transmission and distributions facilities from the provisions of the National Environmental Management Act, or any specific environmental management Act, or any regulations published in terms thereof, for the duration of the national state of disaster”.
This is likely good news for Eskom which applied to bypass the flue-gas desulphurisation unit at Kusile Power Station. This would bring 2 100MW of capacity to the national grid faster, but at the cost of pumping eight times the sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere.
We are mightily concerned about this move and we have to worry about the environmental implications that we will incur because of this. In addition, the longer the National State of Disaster is in place, the worse the problem becomes.
We understand that loadshedding and the energy crisis needs to be addressed, but we must remain aware of how our attempts to stave off that crisis could lead to another in the future.
[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]