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Threat of court action if govt steps out of line with nuclear plans

Oct 22 2017 17:47

Cape Town - Should the details of any progress on trying to push through a costly and deemed unnecessary nuclear build programme not be open to the public, the Democratic Alliance will not hesitate to go to court to interdict it.

DA MP Gordon Mackay said in a statement on Sunday that allegations in the media regarding a high-level Russian delegation which met with President Jacob Zuma shortly before the second Cabinet reshuffle earlier this week are "startling to say the least".

The reshuffle saw David Mahlobo appointed as new energy minister, raising concerns that this step was ostensibly to push through the nuclear deal in favour of the Russians.

Zuma reshuffled his Cabinet allegedly just hours after a meeting with a group of Russian officials in efforts to implement a R1tn new nuclear build project deal, reported the Sunday Times.

Mackay pointed out that the previous minister of energy, Mmamoloko Kubayi, committed on record to abide by the Western Cape High Court’s nuclear ruling in April this year. He added that Mahlobo is bound by the court judgment as well and any deviation will be illegal.

In order for the nuclear deal to be approved, five key pieces of legislation or regulations would need to be updated and amended by Parliament, according to Mackay.

These include the Integrated Resource Plan; the electricity pricing path; procurement regulations; the framework agreements; and changes to the energy act to allow for a different funding/ownership model.

"In addition, the court ruling made clear the need for a substantial public participation process," emphasised Mackay.

"The fact is that we cannot afford nor do we need the nuclear deal. In any event, it is doubtful that we need nuclear in the energy mix bearing in mind that by the time reactors come online, green energy will be able to fill the gap sufficiently."

He said the DA will be keeping a very close eye out for any such amendments and will also push for the entire process to be open and competitive.

Fin24 reported earlier that Mahlobo on Thursday highlighted his vision for SA’s nuclear energy future, following the approval for Eskom to develop 4GW of new power stations near Koeberg, outside Cape Town, last week. Koeberg contributes 1.8GW to SA’s power grid.

Citing the outdated 2010 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which states that SA requires 9.6GW of nuclear energy before 2030, Mahlobo said the latest development forms part of a “policy decision to pursue nuclear energy as a baseload energy form to mitigate our carbon footprint”.

"South Africa recognises the role of nuclear power in ensuring security of energy supply and meeting the challenge of climate change," he said.
"South Africa has made a policy decision to pursue nuclear energy as part of the energy mix and recognise the role of nuclear as a base-load source of energy in ensuring security of supply and climate change mitigation."

A new IRP has been promised by the end of 2017 or the beginning of 2018. The draft IRP delayed developing any nuclear energy until 2037, but there is speculation the final policy could bring nuclear back in as a requirement.

Mahlobo said the DEA authorisation allows for a public participation process to begin.

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