Tag Archive | ISMO

Medupi is key to short term energy crisis

Eskom bogged down with Medupi …

medupiActing director general of the department of energy (DoE), Tseliso Maqubela, told Parliament before it went into short recess that once Eskom’s new Medupi power station starts supplying the grid the country would have “turned the corner”.

“It is well known we are challenged on electricity”, he said, adding that the fresh view is being taken on the independent system marketer’s operators (ISMO) system which would contribute to recovery in the medium term through the addition of independent power producers (IPPs).

DG of energy policy, planning and clean energy, Ompi Aphane, in his presentation told parliamentarians that, as per the State of Nation Address (SONA), “vigorous attention is now being given to the establishment of the operator’s office to implement independent power supplies.

Financial  certainty, they say

On the subject of infrastructure build generally in the electricity sector, financial certainty was now being restored in the energy industry, Maqubela said, with the result that R120m in energy investment is now planned, “some of which has already come in and projects started.”

The overall plan was to divide power supply between Eskom and IPPs on a 70-30 basis through the national grid by 2020, decisions on refining and gas replacing diesel also being necessary in the short term in terms of a revised energy mix to meet future demand.

Other immediate focus areas for DoE were to increase access to electricity; increase “the momentum” of the installation of solar units; finalise the integrated energy plan; address maintenance and refurbishment programmes; “strengthen” the liquid fuels industry and facilitate decision taken on the nuclear programme.

Interface problems

A major issue being tackled was the in the area of household connections, according to the DoE presentation. Dr Wolsey Barnard, in charge of energy projects and programmes, explained that whilst Eskom was often bringing power to an area, the municipal backbone installations were either not ready or municipal skills were lacking.  DoE had recognised the problem and was busy trying to bridge this gap, he said, with skills training or by working on temporary permissions from municipalities with Eskom assistance.

However, Dr Barnard said it was encouraging that whereas the position ten years ago could have been described as hopeless, the situation was now specific and targeted to small areas, in most cases the most difficult remaining.

At the moment, 1,5m additional households will be connected by 2019 but as this is still insufficient to meet the target of universal electrification by 2025, additional funds are now being allocated by the state and plans made.

Barnard calls for co-operation

In order to achieve this, it was essential, Dr Barnard said, that the modalities regarding national, provincial and local government powers be revised on the ability for Eskom to assist in view of the lack of skills and the handling of appropriation funding.

He called for urgent attention to the fact that power installation funding by DoE to municipalities should be “ring fenced” and accounted for. This area had to be focused upon urgently, he noted.

He said that too many times Eskom had supplied power to an area only to be told by a municipality that there were no funds for distribution boxes or no skilled persons available to connect lines.  Dr Barnard said he was aware that the economic planning department were “in the picture” and legislation was planned despite the constitutional barriers but again he wanted to emphasise that this issue had to be resolved urgently.

EFF members asked if there were plans to specifically assist the unemployed with electricity connections and wanted a list of all power cuts to the different areas and the reasons for these.

Priorities from both sides

ANC member Ms Makwbele-Mashele asked the DG that with all the emphasis on “greening”, the high cost of gearing industry to meet new emissions and pollutants standards and the recently introduced air quality regulations, whether in his opinion these issues were hindering the country’ energy and industrial development.  The ANC also asked, as the fuel price seemed to be “out of our hands”, whether Sasol could increase production locally.

The DA wanted more detail on the exact steps at present underway to increase co-generation of energy to solve the immediate energy crisis.   This was in the light of the fact that the ISMO process had initially failed simply because DoE could not foresee the end state of independent power production, they said.    They also felt that a paper was needed to get clarity on how the integrated energy plan and the integrated resources plan locked into the NDP.

The DoE promised to respond to MPs questions in writing through the chair as the minister of energy had taken up most of the debating time available.

Other articles in this category or as background

  • http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/electricity-connections-target-far-short/
  • http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/electricity-tariffs-billiton-tells-its-side/
  • http://parlyreportsa.co.za//uncategorized/major-metros-open-up-on-electricity-tariffs/
  • http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/eskom-issues-alerts/

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Integrated energy plan (IEP) around the corner

IEP a few months off

Benedict MartinsAn integrated energy plan (IEP) for South Africa covering the full energy spectrum will definitely be published before the year end, according to the director general, department of energy (DOE), a fact also confirmed by minister Ben Martins when addressing an energy conference in Johannesburg recently.

Ms Nellie Magubane, when addressing the relevant portfolio committee under chair, Sisi Njikelana who had called for an update on the energy plan, was accompanied by minister Ben Martins at the time and present for his first meeting in Parliament. The minister acknowledged and highlighted the importance of unfolding the plan as part of the country’s investment credentials as soon as possible.

Continuing energy story

Whilst re-confirming that the strategy was still at public participation stage, DG Magubane said there was “no end-state tomorrow” with the plan but rather a reflection of a “phased approach as the country’s appetite for energy as it  develops”.

The process began, she said, with the 1998 White Paper, the development of independent powers system operators (ISMO) and the accompanying ISMO Bill also awaiting the production of the IEP, the National Energy Act in 2008 and regulations on resources that have followed. The IEP this year would start the energy initiative rolling to be followed by gas development plans.

Not just supply factors

In the years since apartheid, said Magubane, when energy had different directives which were focused primarily on just maintaining supply, what had changed significantly were economic, environmental and social imperatives which now were being drawn in and superimposed. “The fixation with supply capacity is not now the only criteria to be considered in the energy paradigm”, she said.

The liquid fuels shortages of 2005 and subsequent electricity disruptions in the years up to 2008, Magubane said, had shown the need for coordinated planning to avoid disparate plans and contradictory initiatives in the sectors of electricity, liquid fuels and gas.

A twenty-year road map for the liquid fuels industry was in progress by the department, she said, and a gas planning infrastructure plan was to be developed once the extent of resources were better understood.

International view

Through time, and above all because of energy security, Magubane said, scenario planning has changed in South Africa to take in security, environmental and climate response factors. In conjunction to long-term climate change policy and agreements, lessons had been learnt from the IEA, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway and Spain, she said.

When asked what had been learnt from a study tour of the USA, DG Magubane said that the primary aspect learnt there was the success of establishing localised energy resources, focusing on what mattered most to the USA and reducing dependence on imports. We learnt, for example, that we must not try a change the impossible or employ unrealistic factors but move according to what was a fact locally. “For example, South Africa has a lot of coal but little water and these factors have to be built in, not ignored.”

She said that the overseas studies where different economies and different state policies were involved, due note that the position had changed radically in South Africa had to be acknowledged, as had been the case in many of those countries.

Control of resources

“For example, government has come from a position where in SA we were determining the appropriate level of involvement with the liquid fuel levels industry during transition to a rapidly globalising picture, to now having to maintain a strategic role in shaping all key sectors of the economy.”

In response to queries from parliamentarians, she acknowledged that the IEP to be produced would not incorporate any powers to the minister, who “would rather be able to exercise any powers affecting energy matters through normal regulatory enforcement contained in the many pieces of legislation that applied to the energy sector, such as the Energy and Gas Acts.”

Pricing restructuring

On pricing issues as far as the IEP was concerned, Ms. Magubane responded to questions that national treasury figures had so far been the base of determinations but in the light that submissions and input from stakeholders which were to emerge from the process now in progress, the issue of price factors could in all probability be reshaped.

In answer to complaints that that there was still no indication from her, or DOE, where the country was going in hydrocarbons, electricity or renewables and what pricing factors were involved for urgent investment needs, the chair asked that DOE be given time to develop the final report or “everything would go in different directions”.

DG Magubane assured parliamentarians that the final plan would enable everybody to weigh up infrastructure plans with government policy, even bearing in mind that the position is constantly changing given such issues as hydro input from neighbours, gas exploration in various forms and global tensions.

previous articles on this subject
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//uncategorized/mineral-and-petroleum-development-bill-grabs-resources/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/president-obama-and-power-africa/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/nuclear-goes-ahead-maybe-strategic-partner/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/petrosa-has-high-hopes-with-the-chinese/

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Facebook and Twitter, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, LinkedIn, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Parliament gives birth to ISMO system

ISMO  to get Eskom’s transmission assets…

In practical terms, the transfer of electricity transmission assets (as distinct from the grid itself) from Eskom into the body of a new government utility known as the Independent System Market Operator (ISMO) has begun in theory.

This follows the agreement of the portfolio committee of energy to process the ISMO Bill in phases in the light of the fact that in practice whilst the exercise has only just commenced “on the ground”, nevertheless, a regulatory environment in which to transfer Eskom transmission assets in the course of time is needed.

Eskom at helm of exercise

The committee acknowledged such a transfer is in fact a lengthy and highly technical process, on the whole completely supervised and finally staffed by Eskom staff, they themselves being transferred to the new entity.

The state law advisors (SLA) present at a recent meeting of parliament’s energy portfolio committee agreed that such a “phased in” approach to the Bill was possible but with careful drafting of a time frame or “framework” to accompany the process.

SLA needs certainty on process of writing changes

This was providing each clause of the Bill before Parliament, said SLA, had the both the agreement and political sanction of the committee beforehand, enabling the SLA to re-write the Bill with certainty.

The purpose of moving in such direction was to provide an enabling environment to the initial phases of creating such a statutory body as an ISMO and at the same time providing clear intent and certainty in the marketplace that such a process was due to take place.

Some reservations were expressed in opposition circles that an operating environment would be particularly difficult for industry and commerce to go forward in with only a partially completed legal and regulatory environment present. Independent power producers (IPPs) were finding it difficukt to strategise without the playing field being defined. It was stated also that agreement on all aspects of the establishment of an independent transmission operator had not yet been agreed to by all parties.

However, the consensus was, with the agreement of SLA, that movement forward could be established in terms of a timing framework being written into or accompanying the Bill as far as the implementation of the portions of the Bill were concerned.

Meeting presidential requirement stated in SONA

Thus Parliament could meet the presidential requirement stated by President Zuma in the state of nation address (SONA) that the ISMO Bill be created as soon as possible and whilst it was appreciated that much of the creation of such a state utility as an entity could happen much of the detail such as the transfer of assets and the question of operational ability would be a much slower and detailed process.

Meetings have now taken place over the next few weeks re-drafting the Bill on this basis and a “B” draft version of the Bill produced clearly defining a portion for a timing framework and one for the usual definitions and establishment provisions.

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ISMO Bill: Eskom to keep the transmission grid

When asked by MPs what assets in the proposed Independent System Market Operator (ISMO) Bill were to be transferred to the operator’s name during the restructuring of South Africa’s energy system, Ompi Aphane, deputy director general of the department of energy (DOE), confirmed that the Bill was not referring to a transfer of South Africa’s transmission grid system but to minor office assets.   He said any such thoughts of splitting Eskom as the major electricity generator from its national supply grid were not being countenanced at this stage and any such moves “were a long way off”.

Aphane, in presenting DOE’s responses to the various submissions made in parliamentary public hearings on the Bill,  said that there had been a change of mind at DOE as a result of the submissions when it came to staff transfers.   These were now to be carried out strictly in terms of the Labour Relations Act.

The DDG summarized by saying that inputs on the Bill “had been very useful” and they would no doubt improve the quality of the Bill itself but he drew attention to the fact that a good deal of the hearings had been devoted erroneously to discussion on a finally re-organised energy supply system, “which was clearly not defined by the Bill nor its intention.”

However, Aphane said that in general terms the responsibilities of “keeping the lights on” was being taken away from Eskom given to ISMO with considerable numbers of staff transfers and transfer of expertise taking place as part of this process.

He said, “We have a very tight energy supply position in South Africa and in taking any direction with energy supply it is essential that we do not compromise this country’s supply/demand relationship which badly needs a balanced electricity supply system based upon carefully handled and integrated established base load plants and peak generation plants.”

In a survey of world situations, Aphane said that DOE had established that in some countries some very bad mistakes had been made in similar situations, including the United Kingdom, which had, as a result of poor handling, suffered greatly from little in the way of new infrastructure energy investment. It was critical, he said, that South Africa does not emulate such mistakes.

DOE said it had looked at ISMO structures established Norway, USA and in developing countries such as China, Turkey, Thailand and Brazil and it was interesting to note, he said, that Norway was generally regarded as having one of the best electricity market models – although very different from South Africa.

Nevertheless, Aphane said, there were certain parallels which South Africa could copy but he warned that any planning coming after the abortive REDs situation had been in a period when there was a high reserve margin. Now, with completely different and very tight restraints, it was to be realized that DOE would proceed into the area of free market operations with great caution. There was a different financial call upon Eskom and on government.

Aphane said it remained essential now to have control over pricing to the consumer especially in the light of Inter-Ministerial Committee report following the blackouts and massively increased electricity tariff structures; the call for energy efficiencies and new factors on climate change. The world was a different place to that when the REDs plan was mooted.

He commented that it had to be recognised that South Africa currently remained dominated by coal fired stations and such were difficult to introduce into a free market situation. Also, he said that the issues of cross-subsidies would probably always remain in some form or another.   He concluded that the “big ticket items” in DOE’s view that had emerged from the public hearings on the ISMO Bill were the perceived need  for independent transmission lines; that the concept of willing buyer-willing seller need to be addressed in the concept of the ISMO, as it was elsewhere in South African legislation, and the call for stakeholder representation on the ISMO board.

On the last point, DOE believed that the state must retain the prerogative of appointing board members in the light of the fact that it was the state that was exposed financially.

MP Lance Greyling, shadow minister of energy, called for a lot more planning and strategy on energy to rest with the ISMO board urgently. He disagreed that such a considerable number of the regulatory matters should remain to be sorted out under the ERA and would be preferably defined under the ISMO Bill at the soonest. Too much was being left to amendments to the ERA to come, way down the line, leaving a current vacuum, he said.

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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.

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry0 Comments

UCT says state should buy national grid from Eskom

The state should own South Africa’s national electricity transmission grid as an independent unit, as is common in many other countries, thus separating the grid from the operations of Eskom to in order to improve the perception in an investor’s mind of how the electricity generation industry was structured in this country. This was proposed by UCT’s Graduate School of Business (UGSB).

In a submission before the parliamentary portfolio committee on energy on the Independent System and Market Operator (ISMO) Bill, Joseph Kapika, on behalf of Prof. Anton Eberhard of UGSB, presented the case for the separation of the two structures – South Africa’s national transmission grid currently owned by Eskom, and that of Eskom itself as an operational generating body.

In complete contrast to an earlier Eskom proposal, which had mitigated for a slowing down of the process of allowing independent generating bodies proposed by the ISMO in order to preserve Eskom financial credibility, Kapika said that the reverse was needed and that the process of establishing ISMO should be speeded up in view of the dismal track record of Eskom over the last few years to run the system.

Furthermore, UGSB suggested that the minister of energy and thus Department DOE through ISMO, be given full responsibility for energy and electricity planning in South Africa.

He added that in the view of UGSB, Eskom would find itself totally unable and unqualified to deal with independent power producers (IPPS) and the hybrid power market in general. Similarly they were not the right people to handle procurement for independent power structures, whatever the type and route taken for the ISMO process.

In a radical suggestion which resonated well with a number of MPs, Kapika said that the entire grid should be bought by the state from Eskom in a simple transfer.  Costs, say it was R50bn he said, should be simply transferred as cash to Eskom in return to re-enforce their balance sheet and creditworthiness for such matters as power stations.

This would ensure a level playing field for investors, Kapika said, independents therefore establishing that the grid was free of encumbrances from Eskom and its track record.

MPs asked Joseph Kapika whether USGB felt this move would bring prices down or would such a move better control licensing of IPPs and bring security of choice to the system.   Kapika replied that whatever was said and done with ISMO, the process of establishing a level playing field for investment was the most important issue and affected both subjects.

He added that the fact that Eskom controlled 90% of the power generation and controlled also the grid gave the perception of unfairness and uncompetitiveness and therefore the perception that Eskom completely controlled the entire electricity market from start to finish was a sorry state affairs for any investor to consider.

When asked why there was only a 2% IPP input at present in the form of investors to the system, mainly solar, and what was causing the blockage, Kapika replied that it had much to do with the dominance of Eskom but UGSB had also looked to other countries “to see what had happened with their IPPs and ISMOs”.

They had found that there were many issues involved but it was quite clear that it was not just high prices that attracted IPPs to make an investment. The answer had to be that in South Africa there had to be better definitions of powers and ownership between what the ISMO does and cannot do and what Eskom owns and should not own.

This was urgent, Kapika said, and thought should be given to the idea of separation of control over the segments of the industry as soon as possible.

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Energy department plans more electricity for the poor

Ompi Aphane, deputy director general of department of energy (DOE), told parliamentarians that his department was acutely aware of the fact that South Africa needed energy security for development of the country and to reduce economic deprivation amongst the poor. However he said his departmental budget had been cut, resulting in a number of departmental objectives being abandoned.

A total of 3.4 million households did not have electricity, he said, and 1.2 million of these were in informal settlements around the country. This meant about 12.5 million people did not to have access to energy as is commonly understood. Ompi Aphane was addressing the NCOP’s select committee on economics and consequently his overview stressed provincial and rural targets.

The percentages of households without electricity were: Eastern Cape 20%, the Free State 6%, Gauteng 21%, KwaZulu-Natal 24%, Limpopo 10.5%, Mpumalanga 6.5%, North West 5.5%, Northern Cape 1.5% and the Western Cape 5%.

Aphane said that Development Bank of South Africa have joined the DOE on a rand to rand basis with electricity development in municipal areas where help is needed to overcome some of the issues, he told MPs. These arrangements were at MOU stage but, nevertheless, negotiations with certain municipalities was underway and planning going ahead.

Dr Wolsey Barnard of DOE (Inep-BPU) said that that it needed centralised buying power to bring down the costs of equipment supplied to make equipment such as transformers available at lower prices to smaller municipalities and IPPs. A more innovation approach to centralised procurement was needed, he said.

Returning to the overall picture, Ompi Aphane said South Africa had to remain competitive in terms of electricity pricing in order to attract investment and DOE remained conscious of the fact that the country had to be totally able to finance its R3trillion energy/electricity programme which included all power stations and national grid wiring and transmission systems.

The  main objectives for DOE were the planning and establishment of new electricity generation capacity in South Africa; the running of the multi year price determination process (MYPD) through to 2030 to establish electricity prices; to monitor all Eskom construction; the establishment of the independent market operator system (ISMO) bringing in independent electricity generation producers and to focus on the electricity distribution network as it applied to the rehabilitation of municipality systems and distribution.

On nuclear energy, Aphane told the select committee on economic development  that the IAEA review of South Africa’s nuclear needs was about to be finalised and hopefully ratified and  approved; all processes being for peaceful purposes, including the important applications in the food chain and health curative areas. Radiation monitoring at main ports of entry was a current project of DOE, he said.

Nuclear issues were subject to “scaremongering”, he said and DOE was fully aware of the need for full national debate on the issue and community awareness programmes. Amendments also were needed under the Nuclear Regulator Act which had to be approved by cabinet and provisions’ made for the withdrawal of the safeguards function from the nuclear operating body, the Nuclear Energy Corporation and pass this to independent governance of the regulator, NERSA.

Other legislative changes ahead were proposals to amendments to the National Energy Regulator Bill; the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill and the ISMO Bill. Draft legislation on nuclear waste issues was with cabinet, Aphane said.   The DOE energy policy and planning programme also had the objective of monitoring the effectiveness of the Increasing Block Tariff (IBT) designed to cushion the poor from rising costs in terms of the true cost of production. The programme planned to extend the IBT to cover prepaid meters in more municipal areas.

Bio-ethanol blending values had to be established and a debate commenced on exactly what were break-even bio fuel price structures if development was to be seen in this area. On energy renewables, Aphane said that a “template” had to be found for a renewables annual report so that progress and development could be measured.   A wind energy awareness campaign was being planned and the solar water heating implementation was well underway with over half a million solar water heating units so far installed.

Nevertheless, returning to his opening remarks, DOE reported that still 12.5 million individuals remained without electricity.   Inroads were being made and next year a further 70,000 municipal connections were expected and 111,500 Eskom connections were planned but price increases in the materials used, or “hardware” were escalating.

On non-grid solar home systems, the total installed to date since the start of the programme was 48,230. The provincial breakdown had been 10,385 in the Eastern Cape, 29,705 in KwaZulu-Natal and 8,140 in Limpopo.

In future, non-grid electrification programmes were not only to be implemented in what was known as “concessionary areas” but on a limited basis in Southern Cape, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape areas where sunlight was more reliable. The target of 10 000 home systems for the current year had been achieved.

The DOE concluded that South Africa’s electrification policies were still valid but different strategies of implementation, particularly as far as climate change was concerned, were needed in the area of renewables.

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