According to news from the Western Cape Chapter of AgriSA, the Farmers Union of South Africa, farmers have recently started to switch to solar electricity because of the rising electricity tariffs of the South African Power Group, and said that more farmers will adopt solar electricity in the form of continued increases in electricity prices.
Image courtesy of: Africa Times
Western Cape Chapter CEO Opelman represented the agricultural association at the South African Power Group"s tariff increase hearings. Public hearings are currently being held by the South African Energy Authority. The hearings will last for three weeks.
Opelman said that the increase in electricity costs will greatly increase the cost pressure on the food industry; now, the Western Cape agricultural industry itself is under severe pressure from the drought; and now it is the electricity cost increase, the agricultural industry received a lot of pressure, food prices will certainly be affected.
According to the chapter's explanation, the drought caused a 50% reduction in their onion production, an 80% reduction in potato production and a R40 million loss in farm workers' wages. Oppelman said that the increase in electricity costs will continue to lead to an increase in costs, which will have an impact on employment.
So what will be the immediate impact of the increase in electricity rates? Oppelman said that now, many farmers are already preparing to move away from the national grid and are ready to generate their own electricity and be self-sufficient.
Wine producers have left the national grid; now they're all using solar power, he says. Now, solar power is all better than the cost of South African power groups. Moreover, this power supply is also more stable than that of the power group.
Oppelman said wine producers are doing this because they don't want to pass on the cost increases to consumers.
The South African power group said the reason it would ask for a big increase in electricity prices was to recover costs until 2014/15; to which Oppelman said, without irony, that wine producers don't adjust prices for things that happened years ago.