Tsitsikamma project enters full operation

The “sky’s the beginning” for the people of Wittekleiboschas the Tsitsikamma Community Wind Farm shifted into full commercial operation yesterday.

The 31-turbine project30km west of Humansdorp will pump 95MW of wind energy into Eskom’s national grid, while also giving the community a huge boost.

They will benefit via a deal comprising 9% sharehold,2.1% of revenue to go to socio economic development, and rental of the land where the turbines are sited.

Role-players at the celebration lunch at the site praised the commitment of the investors– Cennergie, Exxaro and Tata Power – the patience of the community and the vision of project founder Mike Msizi, who died in a car accident in 2012.Msizi’s wife, Florence, and his extended family are 16%shareholders in the project.

Deputy Energy Minister Thembisile Majola said the project was a milestone in the department’s drive to establish a viable energy mix for the country.

Projects like this were invaluable in helping to electrify impoverished corners of the country, thereby freeing residents from the grind of survival without electricity and allowing them to explore wider job possibilities, she said.

“This project is not just about profit — it is making a difference in the lives of the local community and the sustainability of the planet through developing clean energy, ”Majola said.

“The aim is meaningful participation for the local people so they are not just recipients. We’re hoping to see people move beyond menial jobs as they become part of this process.

“From here, we say – the sky’s the beginning”. Majola said the project was the product of the government’s successful Renewable Independent Power Producers Programme (Ripp) which had mobilised R195-million in direct investment and brought 2 145MW into the grid.

A leaked letter in July from Eskom chairman Ben Ngubane said the utility would not be signing any further Ripp agreements, sparking an outcry from from the renewabale sector.