Cape Town – State-owned power utility Eskom said it did not “usurp” the nuclear new build procurement programme from the Department of Energy (DoE) in 2016.
Chose Choeu, divisional executive of corporate affairs at Eskom, said on Friday that a Business Day story “claims that Eskom managed to usurp the nuclear procurement from the DoE”.
The story cites an affidavit filed this week by Earthlife SA and Safcei, whose court case against the DoE regarding a nuclear agreement with Russia is set to be heard in February in Cape Town.
“It defies all shades of logic to suggest that Eskom can successfully rise against our own shareholder representative, which is technically the case owing to the fact that we are state-owned,” said Choeu.
“The Section 34 determination was amended for the sole intention to enable Eskom to take a lead in the nuclear new build programme.
“The supplementary affidavit doesn’t allude to Eskom refusing permission for the DoE to proceed with the nuclear project.
“In fact, DoE has the national mandate to decide on the nuclear new build programme; this falls within their purview and cannot be extricated by Eskom, or any entity for that matter. This is a non-negotiable policy matter and Eskom cannot reasonably, or otherwise, stake a claim thereof.”
Making Eskom procurer was unlawful - Safcei and Earthlife
In their affidavits, the Southern African Faith Communities' Environment Institute (Safcei) and Earthlife SA claim the DoE’s decision in late 2016 to make Eskom the nuclear energy procurer was unlawful.
It forms part of the Western Cape High Court case preparation for the nuclear energy court hearing, which has been postponed to February 22. It is also in response to Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson’s responding affidavit signed on December 22 2016.
The court ordered Joemat-Pettersson on December 13 to provide it with documents that outline the events that led to the decision to move the role of procurer from the DoE to Eskom.
In her response, the minister said she was “not aware of any legal rule or court order” preventing her from amending the 2013 nuclear procurement determination.
“In this regard, I have taken note of some wild, unfounded and irresponsible accusations that this time amendment to the 2013 determination was calculated and timed to derail the present litigation,” she said.
Earthlife SA and Safcei said in a statement this week that their court papers “revealed that the Minister of Energy took an unlawful decision in secret and without any regard to required input from the public”.
The court papers said the December 2016 determination to move the nuclear procurer from the DoE to Eskom was unlawful. It also said the 2013 determination – gazetted in December 2015 – that made the DoE the procurer was unlawful.
“It was made absent (to) any public participation process or other consultative process by the minister or by Nersa (the National Energy Regulator of SA).
“The minister irrationally and unlawfully blindly followed the outdated IRP 2010, instead of making a current and independent determination of how much nuclear generation capacity was required.”
It believes Nersa – which also signed the determination – made the decision because “it mistakenly believed that it was compelled to give its consent”.
“The determination failed to specify the tender procedure to be used by Eskom…”