No progress by Mangaung Centlec on finding alternative energy sources

The metropolis of Bloemfontein remains under national administration and requests for talks with Centlec have been largely ignored over the past month.

An acoustic engineer worries about the impact of wind farms on Addo’s elephants. © Pedro Antonio Salaverria Calahorra/123rf.com

THE CAP – Eyewitness News found that there was little to no evidence that the beleaguered Mangaung-Centlec City Energy Department was making significant progress in finding alternative energy sources.

The metropolis of Bloemfontein remains under national administration and requests for talks with Centlec have been largely ignored over the past month.

While most other metros are further along with their IPP plans, allegations of corruption, infighting and irregular spending have dogged Centlec officials this year.

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Centlec’s 2020 to 2023 business plan simply stated that it knew solar and gas alternatives were becoming increasingly popular and that it could no longer rely solely on Eskom’s electricity supply.

The document mentioned that a feasibility study was underway.

Later, in Centlec’s annual report for 2020 to 2021, it was stated that an unnamed solar farm project had not yet started, but a study costing R1.8 million would continue.

At the start of this year, Centlec was more focused on implementing a turnaround strategy to deal with endemic irregular spending.

Sustainable energy expert from the University of Stellenbosch, Professor Sampson Mamphweli, said he agreed that it looked like Mangaung was lagging far behind in the IPP space.

“Maybe once they get out of administration they’ll look at what other metros are doing, and then maybe they can start with some of these programs.”

Just a month ago, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana said that despite their interventions, Mangaung’s finances and service delivery record had yet to show signs of improvement.

BUFFALO CITY SHOULD BE FAR AHEAD

Mamphweli said once upon a time, Buffalo City Metro was on its way to becoming South Africa’s first renewable energy hub, but it never happened.

Buffalo City said Eyewitness News that he is working on a diet plan.

Mamphweli said all is well, but the city could have gone further with its IPP plans if it stuck to critical projects in the area.

He said the plan was to build a solar farm with the help of a local solar photovoltaic manufacturing factory: “Basically, they were going to manufacture solar panels and then establish this solar farm within the municipality, then feed the grid.But due to legislation that was not so clear at the time, there were delays in this project and led to uncertainties and challenges with the manufacture of PV.

Mamphweli said there was also an ongoing wind power project which has stalled partly due to legislation and issues with the East London industrial development area.

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