Tag Archive | independent system and market operators Bill

Hearings completed, debate starts on new ISMO Bill

With hearings over 4 days, the portfolio committee  of energy under Sisa Njikelana heard submissions on the Independent System and Market Operator (ISMO) Bill, legislation that brings to South Africa for the first time a regulatory system for the trading of electricity at a wholesale level and for integration of privately produced power into the national grid.

In addition, the department of energy has reported back to Parliament with its views on these submissions. This will be summated on this website shortly, after circulation of ParlyReport to private clients.

Department of Energy (DOE),  in their own submission during the hearings said that South Africa urgently needed new generation capacity but there had to be “rules of engagement and a level playing field” if the private sector was to be introduced. Consequently government had to ensure that the public still had the benefit of “minimalisation of inevitable tariff increases”.

The purpose of the ISMO Bill was to establish a centralised electricity buying department to separate such a process from Eskom who controlled 90% of the electricity output in SA, thus providing a form of independence from Eskom for independent power producers, DOE said in their introduction.

ISMO would be responsible for an “aggregated wholesale price”, leaving generation licences and allocation of megawatts supplied in terms of the integrated resources plan to be addressed under the Electricity Regulation Act.

In general, all submissions welcomed the introduction of such a Bill, the Energy Intensive User Group expressing concern in their comments as to who exactly was the ultimate owner of the national grid system and the fact that municipalities were included as distributors under ISMO jurisdiction.   The Bill was silent on ISMO rights, they noted, and how potential customers would be shared between Eskom and ISMO and is was important in their view that the Electricity Regulation Act be amended to reflect this since the new ISMO legislation would be rendered inoperable in many respects.

NERSA, the electricity regulator, had a number of critical comments to make, Richard Chauke of that organisation stating that “despatch”, or passing on of power generated is not provided for in the Bill as a licenced activity in terms of the Electricity Regulation Act (ERA), meaning that NERSA would have to commence trading activities on a temporary basis which was not a good plan.

Also, they stated, Eskom’s licence as an operator needed to be amended and separated to allow for independent power producers (IPPs).

NERSA responded to queries as to why the ERA had to be changed, stating in their reply that the ERA was the anchor legislation for the entire process and that matters should follow such a regime where major subjects such as this dealt should be dealt with in an over-arching industry act, particularly not the ISMO which was relevant to IPP supply.

NERSA again emphasised that as it was important in order to ensure equitable and fair despatch of IPP power; that considerable expertise within NERSA would have to be built up in NERSA in the coming months to ensure transparency and this might be achieved by hiring suitably qualified additional staff.

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