Marching for free basic electricity and renewables!!

APF + Earthlife Africa Jhb

Wednesday 29 October 2008 by Nic

On Thursday the 30th of October 2008, Earthlife Africa Jhb and the Anti-Privatisation Forum will be marching on the Department of Minerals & Energy, Eskom, and the City of Johannesburg. Communities across Gauteng are protesting to demand a decent, meaningful Free Basic Allocation of electricity and for increased generation of electricity from renewable resources.

The march will start at 9:30am at Beyers Naude Square/Library Gardens (Market and Rissik Street, Johannesburg CBD), it will then proceed to Eskom and the Department of Mineral and Energy in Braamfontein. The march will end at the Johannesburg Civic Centre.

The issues at hand are pressing for poor communities and the wider nation at large.

Many poor households remain unconnected to the electricity grid, or unable to afford electricity entirely, leading them instead to use fuel-wood, coal, and paraffin as their primary energy carriers. Many others suffer varying frequencies of disconnection due to their inability to afford the entire amount charged for electricity, although most are able to pay at least some on a regular basis.

We are also calling for meaningful investment in renewable technologies, which will be, in the next decades, cheaper options than coal: The latest research into pricing of electricity in the South African context clearly demonstrates the superiority of renewables. The current cost of generating electricity from new coal-fired stations (such as Medupi) is R0.25/kWh, set to rise to R0.36/kWh by 2020. The cost of solar thermal is currently at R0.40/kWh, and is set to decline to R0.25/kwh by 2020. The cost of wind is presently R0.49/kWh and will fall to R0.29/kWh in 2020. Solar thermal technology can provide base-load power, making it a viable alternative to coal, and there is no real limit to its usage in South Africa.

The Anti-Privatisation Forum and Earthlife Africa Jhb therefore demand:

- 1. A free basic allocation of 100kWh per person per month , and with a corresponding step-block tariff. The People’s Budget Campaign has consistently called for these.
- 2. The end of the prepaid metering system.
- 3. Massive investment in renewable technologies. We do not see nuclear power as a safe, cost-effective alternative to coal, and no nuclear plants should be built in South Africa.
- 4. The DME should withdraw its Draft Electricity Pricing Policy in its entirety. A progressive policy should be written with a humane basic allocation of electricity as its starting point, not the maximisation of Eskom profits, which stood at nearly R1 billion last year.

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