Energize Inbox, April 2016

April 12th, 2016, Published in Articles: Energize

Our winning letter

re: COP21 outcomes and the implications for South Africa’s energy future


I would like to respond to Prof. Philip Lloyd’s letter published on page 11 of the March 2016 edition of Energize.
Can we see some hope in Prof. Lloyd’s outburst? Has he finally moved on from denial of climate change science, via disputing the credentials of the bodies who tell us that 2015 was the warmest year on record, to now attempting to rubbish the COP21 Paris agreement?

Whatever, such views are increasingly irrelevant. Who these days is still in denial mode on climate change and the action needed? Not one coal, oil or gas company, only US Republicans and those who Naomi Oreskes describes in her 2010 book Merchants of doubt: how a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to global warming as “superannuated, disgruntled (or) a habitual contrarian”.

Indeed the Paris agreement is far from perfect. It commits countries to a voluntary system, but it shows that, in the case of complex global issues such as climate change, nonbinding international agreements are more effective in global governance than binding treaties. And those who observed the Paris proceedings will confirm that businesses have now realised they had better take the agreement very seriously, as it presages much change ahead.

On the point about India, it will be increasing its greenhouse gas emissions in the next decades before peaking. But then it is India’s turn to develop its economy and lift its people out of poverty. It currently has emissions of less than 2 t per person per year, while South Africa is up at 10, more than countries like France, Germany and Japan. South Africa has had its chance, but did not achieve such social objectives. Like it or not, “emissions per capita” is a legitimate framing of the problem, and it would be quite naïve to believe that there is no international pressure on South Africa to reduce its emissions.

Rather than wasting time in denying and rubbishing developments, it is much more interesting to observe and understand the many disruptive trends that are beginning to play out, such as developments in energy storage, the demise in electricity utilities as increasingly cheap solar PV destroys their business models, not to mention the increasing inroads of carbon pricing globally and in South Africa.

Dave Collins

re: Eskom cries foul as NERSA rejects its diesel claim


Eskom’s seminal failure, to deliver Medupi and Khusile on time and within budget, lies at the very centre of its financial woes. In addition, its admonishing customers to use less electricity has decreased its revenue. As usual, those most affected by the increases are the poor, who will be forced to return to cooking with wood, coal and paraffin. However, we should give cognisance to the overall effect of huge electricity price rises on the economy as a whole. Eskom’s incompetence has hugely depleted the economy’s ability to grow. This situation has seen an increase in disaffection of those unemployed, resulting in increasingly violent service delivery protests.

Judith Taylor

New cottage industry: charging to fix Eskom billing errors?


It seems a new cottage industry is arising: agencies are taking 20% of the savings they get for their clients in sorting out Eskom’s billing errors. In the case of a large erroneous bill, that can be a lot of money. Surely Eskom can bill accurately and address billing errors when they occur. Eskom’s ancient and faulty meters at my parent’s farm near Rustenburg caused a near R40 000 monthly bill (should be around R8000 pm). The agency pulled strings and had R29 000 reversed, and took 20% of this as a fee. What is this? Eskom customers now have to pay almost R6000 to have Eskom do what it is meant to do? It reeks of a scam: Eskom overcharges, the agency gets it reversed based on personal relationships with the people in an Eskom office, and the agency pockets a whole lot of money. Some of that money may or may not find its way back to Eskom officials. The doors to creeping corruption are very much open. It’s a very short walk from “agency that helps fix things” to “extortion racket caused by Eskom incompetence”.

Name withheld by request. The author is known to EE Publishers.

Editor’s note: this letter was sent to Eskom for right of reply, but no response has been received

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