Amid the theatrics, grandstanding and general lack of decorum that has brought disgrace to what should be a dignified and respectful occasion and a moment for thoughtful reflection, the annual State Of the Nation Address last Thursday evening, included one announcement that has Western Cape officials and residents brimming with anticipation.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that municipalities in good financial standing would be allowed to buy electricity directly from Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

Conceding to the “debilitating effects of load shedding”, President Ramaphosa said, “It has severely set back our efforts to rebuild the economy and to create jobs. Every time it occurs, it disrupts people’s lives, causing frustration, inconvenience, hardship. At its core, load-shedding is the inevitable consequence of Eskom’s inability over many years – due to debt, lack of capacity and state capture – to service its power plants.”

For years, the Western Cape government has been agitating to be able to purchase electricity direct from IPPs. The City of Cape Town currently has a case before the Gauteng High Court on this issue and has argued that, if they were allowed to buy from IPPs, they wouldn’t be subjected to load shedding.

So why is this good news for the Overberg? If consistently achieving clean audit status is a measure of good financial standing, then the municipalities of Swellendam, Cape Agulhas and Overstrand will easily make the grade.

These three amongst 12 Western Cape municipalities were commended last year by Auditor-General, Kimi Makwetu when the latest municipal audit results were released for the 2017-18 financial year.

Not only that, but the Overstrand Municipality already has an enabling framework in place to facilitate this, as outlined, for example, in Guidelines for Embedded Generation – Application process to become an embedded generator in Overstrand Municipality.

This is an opportunity for a public-private partnership (PPP) between the municipality, business and residents to create an enabling environment for economic growth. While the local administration might be worried about losing revenue on the electricity it currently charges for, the overall benefits will no doubt be greater.

Power to the people.

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