A bid to re­lieve pres­sure on na­tional elec­tric­ity

Cape Town res­i­dents will soon be pay­ing for high pres­sure so­lar wa­ter heaters by way of do­mes­tic rates bills, writes Anna-marie Smith

Business Day - Home Front - - HOMEFRONT -

THE City of Cape Town ear­lier this month is­sued a Re­quest for Pro­pos­als from ser­vice providers for a so­lar wa­ter heater roll-out to house­holds as part of a five to seven year plan.

In line with the city's com­mit­ment to a re­duced car­bon foot­print, the in­ten­tion is to re­lieve pres­sure on the na­tional elec­tric­ity sup­ply, sup­port lo­cal eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment through job cre­ation, and pro­vide cost sav­ings for house­holds faced with in­creased elec­tric­ity costs.

Al­der­man Belinda Walker, May­oral Com­mit­tee Mem­ber for Eco­nomic, En­vi­ron­ment and Spa­tial Plan­ning says the city's in­ten­tion is for ap­pointed ser­vice providers to pro­vide high pres­sure so­lar wa­ter heaters to re­place ex­ist­ing con­ven­tional elec­tri­cal gey­sers in Cape Town house­holds.

Walker says the city is lend­ing sup­port by pro­vid­ing a ser­vice al­low­ing re­cip­i­ents to pay for units through their con­sol­i­dated rates bill in­stead of mak­ing large cap­i­tal out­lays for pur­chases. “There would be no up­front pay­ment, and house­holds would typ­i­cally pay less for units than their as­so­ci­ated sav­ings on elec­tric­ity, for not heat- ing wa­ter in elec­tric gey­sers.”

She says house­holds will be able to se­lect pay back pe­ri­ods best suited to in­di­vid­ual cir­cum­stances, such as older peo­ple with greater dis­pos­able in­come pos­si­bly pay­ing it off sooner than young fam­i­lies with ex­ten­sive cash flow re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. The City will sup­port and en­dorse ser­vice providers that can prove qual­ity, de­pend­abil­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity in prod­uct and ser­vice de­liv­ery, war­ranty and main­te­nance.

Cape Busi­ness has ap­plauded this move, say­ing they would like to see sim­i­lar ac­tion by other coun­cils na­tion­ally.

Peter Haylett, Chair­man of the Cape Cham­ber of Busi­ness In­dus­trial Fo­cus Port­fo­lio Com­mit­tee said: “The mass roll-out of so­lar wa­ter heaters will ac­tu­ally cost the city some of their in­come from elec­tric­ity sales, but there is no doubt that it will ben­e­fit us all in the long term.” He said this imag­i­na­tive scheme sets an ex­am­ple for the rest of the coun­try, and the in­tro­duc­tion of sim­i­lar schemes na­tion­ally would be wel­comed.

In view of con­sumers not see­ing de­creas­ing tar­iffs of the na­tional grid in the fore­see­able fu­ture, the SWH so­lu­tion will pro- vide im­me­di­ate re­lief through sav­ings, that should co­in­cide with elec­tric­ity tar­iff in­creases, as well as pro­duce long-term sav­ings once SWH’s had been paid off.

From a cost per­spec­tive to con­sumers, re­plac­ing a con­ven­tional elec­tric geyser with high pres­sure sys­tems is cur­rently around R20 000. This sys­tem has an elec­tric el­e­ment and pro­vides the equiv­a­lent hot wa­ter ser­vice of a con­ven­tional elec­tric geyser, ex­cept that it re­places some of the elec­tric­ity by us­ing so­lar en­ergy. If mon­i­tored on a sea­sonal ba­sis, and by in­tro­duc­ing sav­ing mech­a­nisms such as timers, op­ti­mum sav­ings are pos­si­ble. Low pres­sure sys­tems cur­rently cost around R4 000, are not fit­ted with elec­tric el­e­ments and usu­ally serve house­holds in the ab­sence of con­ven­tional elec­tric gey­sers.

By ben­e­fit­ing end users, the City — who tra­di­tion­ally pur­chases elec­tric­ity from Eskom and sell­ing it to con­sumers at a profit, will be for­feit­ing part of its in­come stream. Walker says al­though it will re­quire an in­no­va­tive jug­gling act to re­tain this rev­enue, be­cause the City is pro­vid­ing a pain­less fi­nanc­ing fa­cil­ity to con­sumers with­out ac­tu­ally fund­ing the project, it has been struc­tured in the best in­ter­est of all par­ties con­cerned.

From a sus­tain­able busi­ness per­spec­tive, Haylett said the next step to­wards cost ef­fec­tive en­ergy us­age would be for the city to re­view reg­u­la­tions on the use of gas. “Peak­ing power is the most ex­pen­sive elec­tric­ity gen­er­ated and that is where we should look for more sav­ings. The city should do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to en­cour­age the use of gas.”

Walker says the city is con­sid­er­ing all op­tions for pos­si­ble gas use so­lu­tions, and while not a quick fix, it can of­fer in­stan­ta­neous eco­nomic re­lief de­spite cur­rently be­ing an ex­pen­sive com­mod­ity.

Al­der­man Belinda Walker, May­oral Com­mit­tee Mem­ber for Eco­nomic, En­vi­ron­ment and Spa­tial Plan­ning.

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