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Electricity bill tabled in Parliament to break supply monopoly in S. Africa

(Xinhua)    12:47, October 26, 2019

The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) on Thursday tabled the Independent Electricity Management Operator Bill in Parliament in a bid to break supply monopoly amid a worsening electricity shortage.

"The introduction of this bill couldn't have come at a more apt time in light of the recent rolling blackouts experienced last week," the DA said.

The bill, also known as the Cheaper Electricity Bill, seeks to break state-run electricity utility Eskom into two separate entities -- generation and transmission/distribution entities, said Natasha Mazzone, DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises.

"Our plan would see a generation entity which is privatized in an effort to break Eskom's monopoly on the production of energy, allowing Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to compete on an equal footing in the generation sector," Mazzone said.

Under the bill, well-functioning metros will be able to source energy directly from IPPs and electricity supply will ultimately become more stable, cleaner and cheaper.

Cash-strapped Eskom, which supplies more than 95 percent of the electricity consumed in South Africa, often resorts to load shedding to avoid a total collapse of the national grid. Last week, the utility implemented a new round of load shedding for four days running, severely affecting economic activities and people's lives.

These power cuts came a month after the utility assured the public and the DA that there would be no planned rolling blackouts for the months of September and October.

The utility blamed the breakdown of several power generating units for the latest rolling blackouts. But poor management and alleged corruption are believed to be behind constant load shedding.

The government has forked out billions of rand to salvage the debt-ridden utility, but with little effect.

"Eskom has effectively become a zombie enterprise that is both over-inflated and riddled with corruption. Furthermore, it has a complete monopoly over the generation and distribution of electricity," Mazzone said.

The DA believes that the only way to stabilize and secure the electricity grid is to break Eskom's monopoly, he said.

"Eskom poses the single biggest risk to our economy -- jumping from bailout to bailout just to stay afloat," said Mazzone.

The DA calls on its colleagues in the opposition benches and across the political divide to set their differences aside and to support the introduction of this bill in order to ensure a secure future for all South Africans, he said.

In the coming days, the DA will hand over its plan to the government as it believes that energy security in South Africa requires cooperation across the political divide, said Mazzone.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Kou Jie, Bianji)

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