Minister Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Zweli Mkhize, is calling on municipalities to keep track of the ever changing developments in the generation, transmission and distribution of energy.

Speaking at the technical convention of the Association of Municipal Electricity Utilities Mkhize said that government’s drive to provide all citizens with access to basic services includes looking at all forms of energy generation.

This includes traditional coal-fired generation plants through to hydro plants, solar farms, wind turbines and small embedded generation, the Minister said on Monday.

Already 188 municipalities are licensed through the National Electricity Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) to distribute electricity to consumers.

Mkhize noted that the space occupied by local municipalities was becoming more complex as other forms of electricity generation were becoming effective.

The AMEU is an association of municipal electricity distributors as well as national, parastatal, commercial, academic and other organisations that have a direct interest in the electricity supply industry in Southern Africa.

Affordable services

“Renewable energy is changing the face of the energy game and municipalities are responding, simply to provide affordable services to citizens.

“Renewable energy is also providing other opportunities in the energy sector in municipalities,” the Minister said, while referring to the solar farms being erected within the borders of a municipality that could be fed into the municipal network as part of the generation and transmission combination.

This challenge, he added, will have to be managed well so that the total effect on the national grid is not compromised.

Furthermore, businesses and households are installing solar arrays on their rooftops.

Electricity a revenue generator

Mkhize said this will no doubt have a negative impact on municipal revenue generation on which electricity is one of the major sources of the revenue generator.

In recent years revenue source has seen a decline in municipal profit margins due to the higher cost of bulk electricity.

Mkhize said it is therefore vital that municipalities also identify and embark upon programmes in the Renewable Energy sector to stimulate LED, as there are huge opportunities for the future especially in the township and rural economies.