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"energy office" launched in Durban - 4 February 2009

eThekwini - The eThekwini Municipality has unveiled an "energy office" to increase awareness around saving electricity and promoting energy efficiency.

Government last year called on South Africans to reduce their energy consumption.

Opened on Tuesday, the office will establish the municipality as a leading local authority in promoting and implementing energy management to achieve a sustainable energy future for businesses and residents of eThekwini.

The current focus of the energy office is to set up a framework on using solar energy for the residents of Durban.

The office will also be responsible for driving green initiatives, securing grants and funding from all financing institutions, influence legislation and bylaws from a municipal perspective to support green energy use in the city.

Speaking at the officially launch, City Manager Michael Sutcliffe said some of the biggest challenges facing the world today included climate change and scarce energy resources.

He said currently in South Africa the electricity demand exceeded its supply.

“The office will bring together experts in different disciplines to ensure that we minimise energy usage, create a society that cares much more about the environment and find new ways to create energy for the sustainable future of Durban," Mr Sutcliffe said.

He noted that besides improving the city’s energy efficiency, the office commits to reducing green house gas emissions, reducing dependency on finite fossil fuels and investing in renewable energy sources or technologies.

Manager of the Energy Office Manoj Singh said the office would be working towards forging strategic partnerships with voluntary organisations including government, tertiary institutions, business and the public, which were critical in the success of the office.

“We plan to expand the knowledge base of individuals and business as well as actively promote energy efficiency and reduction to our energy users via the media.

"Last years power failures did not augur well for our growing economy but on the same breath it spoke volumes about service delivery and the commitment of government to improving the lives of our people," Mr Singh said.

eThekwini Municipality Deputy Mayor Logie Naidoo said the conservation of energy was paramount if the city was serious about seeing this country developing to the level where it would be clustered with the first world countries.

"In keeping with our promise of a better life for all, we would request our people to also do their part, we need to form strong partnerships here and government is aware that there are certain things that it cannot do alone.

“But, it is also aware of the fact that there is virtually nothing that could be achieved if the communities do not play their part,” Deputy Mayor Naidoo said.

The municipality is presently surveying their buildings to evaluate its energy usage, the information will be used to implement suitable energy efficiency and reduction measures within the municipality.

An energy awareness campaign is currently underway and will continue to provide advice on methods of reducing energy.

By Gabi Khumalo for Buanews