09 May 2008

Independent Democrats question high electricity prices

clipped from www.thetimes.co.za

South Africans are paying four times more than some foreign countries for electricity, the Independent Democrats said yesterday.

Lance Greyling, spokesman on energy, said the ID wanted answers from Eskom over the increase in electricity exports to neighbouring countries during South Africa’s ongoing power crisis.

Greyling said he had sent questions for written reply to Minister of Public Enterprises, Alec Erwin.

Greyling said Eskom must also explain why there had been a 22 percent decrease in electricity imports.

He said Eskom exported electricity at 11 cents per kilowatt hour, which was a quarter of the rate South Africans pay.

In his questions to the minister, Greyling said the ID wanted to know the reasons behind South Africa’s exports to neighbouring countries being increased by a reported 6.1percent in the first three months of this year, and on what basis decisions were made to increase the export of electricity.

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As shortages of things like electricity, oil and even food grow, so will conflicts of interest.

Ideally, southern Africa should try to produce its own electricity for the whole subcontinent. As supplies of coal and other fossil fuels dwindle, there will be increasing reliance on hydroelectricity from the Zambezi and the Congo -- but countries along those rivers will want to serve themselves first, and sell the surplus to others -- while there is a surplus.

So which route to go -- cooperation in the subcontinent, or autarky?

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