Costly nuclear gets the green light while Eskom continues to squeeze impoverished South Africans with more price hikes

The Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment institute (SAFCEI) submitted their opposition to Eskom’s proposed tariff increases, calling on the National Energy Regulator (NERSA) to protect South Africans, particularly the poor and vulnerable, from an increased energy security burden.  Electricity prices have risen 114% over the last 5 years and now Eskom wants a further 19.9%.

The deadline for submissions regarding Eskom’s tariff increases (13 October) coincides with the announcement by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) that it has approved an environmental authorisation for the nuclear new build. Instead of the preferred site of Thyspunt, DEA has approved up to 4000MW of nuclear power at the current Koeberg site, just outside Cape Town.

The DEA cites increasing need for base load power, and that nuclear energy is in the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), as reasons for approving the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Yet, Eskom’s tariff application shows that electricity demand is declining and the IRP has already been criticised, with reputable institutes such as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) showing that nuclear energy is not needed.

Liziwe McDaid, SAFCEI’s energy expert, points out that Eskom’s proposed tariff increase does not include nuclear energy and so it seems that the utility will soon be coming back to electricity consumers for more increases. It therefore appears that the authorisation of a nuclear build is out of alignment with the current context.  South Africans cannot afford nuclear energy.

“It is not prudent to allow Eskom to continue to overestimate its demand and then claw back revenue it does not make. It is senseless to continue to increase electricity tariffs, without any meaningful transformation of Eskom operations, especially in the face of ongoing maladministration within the parastatal” states McDaid.

In its submission to NERSA, SAFCEI cites a number of issues, including Eskom’s overestimation on the demand for electricity, increased coal costs as it needs to buy expensive short-term coal contracts, the water supply infrastructure ordered by Eskom to supply coal power stations, nuclear research projects and the selective and therefore misleading presentation of pricing data relating to renewable energy – which creates a false impression of the cost trends of renewable technology.

McDaid adds, “Much of Eskom’s operational expenditure is based on the overestimation of demand, leading to a lock-in of coal contracts and water infrastructure, which is unwise since it is not needed.”

“South Africans must stand together in solidarity and call on NERSA to demand accountability, and reject Eskom’s request. We can’t allow Eskom to continue to extort money from citizens in this manner, and without any repercussions for its continued mismanagement.” Said McDaid.

SAFCEI’s legal team are considering the nuclear EIA authorisation to determining if there are grounds for appeal.

The faith-based NGO encourages South Africans to send their letters of objection to the tariff increases directly to NERSA at mypd@nersa.org.za, endorsing the SAFCEI submission. Additionally, citizens can register at publichearings@nersa.org.za, by 23 October to present their objections to NERSA in person in their respective provinces. NERSA is obliged to afford the public the opportunity to object in person. SAFCEI will be presenting at the NERSA hearings in Cape Town on 30th October.

ENDS

Issued by Natasha Adonis, on behalf of SAFCEI and #StopCorruptNuclearSA. For more information, kindly contact Natasha on 0797-999-654 or adonisnatasha@yahoo.co.uk

Note to Editor:

Please see below the proposed timetable for public hearings across the country (copied from a NERSA media release):

  • Western Cape Cape Town 30 October 2017
  • Eastern Cape Port Elizabeth 01 November 2017
  • KwaZulu-Natal Durban 03 November 2017
  • Northern Cape Kimberly 06 November 2017
  • Limpopo Polokwane 08 November 2017
  • Mpumalanga Mbombela 10 November 2017
  • North West City of Matlosana 13 November 2017
  • Free State Bloemfontein 15 November 2017
  • Gauteng Midrand 16 November 2017

Please note: The dates of the public hearings are subject to change and might be extended, depending on the number of presenters registered. Venues will be communicated in due course.

SAFCEI’s full submission to NERSA can be downloaded here: http://safcei.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/SAFCEI-comment-on-eskom-revenue-application-sept-2017-FINAL.pdf. This submission has been endorsed by the Justice and Peace Commission, the Unite Behind Coalition, Popular Education and EGSA.

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