POWER SUPPLY: Eskom Subsidy Curtailment Questioned
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THE decision to curtail the Eskom subsidy for solar water heaters has come as a great disappointment to the Cape Chamber of Commerce.
“Solar water heaters are one of the most effective ways to save electricity and we believe that every effort should have been made to continue the programme and make it more effective,” said Mr Michael Bagraim, President of the Chamber.
He pointed out that a great deal of the subsidy was spent on imported units when the money could have been used more effectively to promote local products and help local manufacturers achieve economies of scale and bring down prices.
About 64 000 solar geysers were installed over a period of nearly three years. “This may seem a lot but not when viewed against the Government target of one million. In fact,the target should be to put a solar water heater on every roof in the country,” Mr Bagraim said.
Mr Peter Haylett, Chairman of the Chamber’s Energy Portfolio Committee, said that the end of the subsidy together with the announcement by the National Energy Regulator that feed-in tariffs for renewable energy were to be reduced sent a very disturbing message to business.
“South Africa desperately needs to save energy and to supplement Eskom power so that we can keep industry going. We are faced with the threat of black-outs but the message we are getting is very discouraging.”
He pointed out that electric geysers tended to switch on during morning and evening shower times which coincided with peak demand. “So it’s not just how much power they save but when. Solar geysers can play a big role and we need an effective national campaign to put a geyser on every roof.”
The recent changes in the Renewable Energy tariffs had been a blow to business. “To make investment decisions business needed to be reasonable sure of the returns it could expect, but and sudden changes in tariffs were very discouraging. If the goal posts are to be moved like this business will simply look for other opportunities,” Mr Haylett said.
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