THE Tsitsikamma Community Wind Farm Project (TCWFP) is donating more than R100000 towards the improvement of two poor local schools.
The donation includes a R90000 cheque, which was handed over to principal Henry du Plessis on Friday, to fix up the ablution facilities at Clarkson Primary School.
Earlier in the day, the lights went on for the first time at Amafengu Primary School, also in Clarkson, which up until now has had just one of its seven classrooms electrified. The cost of this installation was R35000, project representative Watt Energy chief operation officer Mark Scheepers said.
“Electricity is a key school resource to power various instruction technology equipment as well as things like heaters in the icy winters.”
The TCWFP is the first community wind project and the first wholly owned by South Africans. The mining and commodities group Exarro owns 75% of the shares, the 5000-strong Tsitsikamma Amafengu community living on Wittekleibosch owns 15% and Watt Energy from Port Elizabeth owns 10%.
Watt Energy chief executive Mcebisi Msizi, who initiated the project, said his company took great pride in what was being announced.
“Through providing the community with what we so often take for granted, electricity in our classrooms, we are showing it is not only possible, it is essential for us, as the private sector, to assist government, and to no longer place social issues solely at government’s doorstep.”
Exxaro chief executive Sipho Nkosi said the donations formed part of Exxaro’s socio-economic development programme which is aimed at benefiting the communities in which the company operates.
The project envisages a first phase development of 20 turbines, which will generate 40MW. Scheepers said specialist studies of some areas of concern like possible bird and bat kills by the turbine propellers, and interference with flight paths,weare under way.
The project will still be obtaining the turbines from Danish manufacturer Vestas, but the initial Danish equity partners were bought out after a decision to go “purely South African”, he said.
The power purchasing agreement (PPA) legislation, a clincher for the project, needed to facilitate the purchase commitment from Eskom, has not been passed by the government, although this was supposed to happen at the end of last year.
But President Jacob Zuma said during his opening of Parliament speech at the beginning of this year that the government was committed to establishing a renewable energy policy framework, which would include a PPA, he said.
“Right now we are operating at risk. There is still no purchasing agreement that we can take to the bank to get it to lend us money.
“But our understanding is that the framework referred to by the president will be in place in the third quarter of the year. We’re optimistic.”
A product of the 2001 unbundling of Iscor, Exxaro has committed itself to buying green energy, so this could be a conduit for the power produced at Wittekleibosch, if the purchasing agreement does not materialise within a reasonable period, Scheepers said.
But the first prize is to plug into the government programme which envisages the purchase of two tranches of wind energy – 200MW by 2012 and another 200MW by 2013.
“We are on track to close our financial operations by the end of next year and to start building after that, so we will be well in time to supply that need. We want to be the first community wind project and the first wholly South African wind project to become part of this government programme.”
-The Weekend Post,2010/08/30