Conserve energy, or pay

On 24 March 2011, in News, by Andrew Bennett

WHETHER it’s to save money or the environment or both, Capetonians urgently need to start reducing their electricity consumption.

That was the message at the launch of the City of Cape Town’s electricity-saving campaign yesterday, where the focus was on the impact of future price increases, along with the environmental and developmental costs of a “business-as-usual” approach.

According to the city’s director of electricity services, Les Rencontre, the electricity bill of the average consumer will increase by a whopping 415 percent in the decade from 2006 to 2016. By 2013, some users’ bills will have trebled from what they were paying last year.

Sarah Ward, the city’s head of energy and climate change, highlighted the key problems associated with consumers continuing to use electricity as they have always done. These included higher energy expenditure, continued price hikes, an inefficient economy, vulnerability in a carbon-constrained future, vulnerability to load shedding, the loss of the city’s competitive advantage and unemployment. “The city is taking this very seriously,” Ward warned. “The big focus is energy saving. Without it, the city can’t work.”

The city has already embarked on an aggressive marketing campaign as part of its electricity-saving campaign, which will run for three years, and says the initiatives now being implemented mark the “beginning of an era” that must result in Cape Town becoming a low-carbon city. One of the first projects the city will drive is a bid to reduce residential electricity consumption by 10 percent by 2012, since residential consumers are responsible for 43 percent of the total local electricity consumption. Mid- to high-income groups – the biggest electricity guzzlers – will be encouraged to reduce consumption by 25 to 40 percent, the city said.

Rencontre explained that when this year’s price increases of about 20 percent kick in in July, consumers will have to get used to paying more for using more. There would be progressive and steep increases from the point where households consumed over 600 units (1 unit = 1 kilowatt-hour) a month. “It is a big incentive for residential consumers to save electricity,” he said. And while the city was “aware of the need to protect poor households”, the poor would pay the same as the affluent should their usage climb over the subsidised 450 units a month.

Mayoral committee member for utility services, Clive Justus, said the efficient use of electricity had become “increasingly important in view of steeply rising electricity tariffs and the shortage of South Africa’s electricity supply”. “The need to reduce operating costs, the cost to the economy of inefficient energy use, the risk of load shedding and ever-increasing carbon emissions all add up to the urgent need for a concerted effort to improve our electricity efficiency in Cape Town,” he said.

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Photo: Andy Le May from icologie, right, demonstrates a power-saving device to city councillors Ian Neilson, left, and Clive Justus at the launch of the City’s Electricity Saving Campaign.

1 Response » to “Conserve energy, or pay”

  1. Andy says:

    I think you’re in the back on the left!

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