Energy minister still taking secret actions on Nuclear Energy

In a surprise move late last year, the Minister of Energy’s legal team, revealed the decision to give the procurement of the nuclear new build to Eskom.  They chose to reveal this only at the nuclear energy court hearing on December 13th 2016, preventing the court from reviewing the case.

Today, two NGOs who are taking the government to court over their unlawful nuclear energy decisions, Earthlife Africa, Johannesburg (ELA Jhb), and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI), submitted supplementary affidavits, part of the court case preparation for the nuclear energy court hearing, which has been postponed to February 22nd 2017.

The court papers have revealed that the Minister of Energy took an unlawful decision in secret and without any regard to required input from the public.

Makoma Lekalakala, from ELA Jhb, says that, “Once again the energy minister is acting in bad faith, taking decisions without any public input, while at the same time, engaging in public hearings about the electricity choices for the country.  What value is given to public input if the decision has already been made before the public process is complete?”

As the SAFCEI and ELA Jhb affidavit states: the manner in which this decision to shift the responsibility for the nuclear build to Eskom has followed the same secretive, unlawful process as the previous nuclear related decision making. According to the NGOs affidavit: “the Minister’s decision was taken because irrelevant considerations were taken into account or relevant considerations were not considered.”

For example the energy minister has based her decision on outdated government plans: her new nuclear section 34 determination was based on an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) from 2010.  A new IRP is currently going through a process of public participation and both this proposed replacement IRP as well as the submitted public reservations, input, questions, and objections have been completely ignored.

The Minister also ignored the advice of her own advisers which found that a least cost IRP model, free of any artificial constraints and before any policy adjustments does not include any new nuclear power generators. The optimal least cost mix is one of solar PV, wind and flexible power generators (with relatively low utilisation).”  The Ministers’ advisors report (MACE report) was made public at the IRP public hearings which were held in December 2016, at the same time as the court case was heard.

“The secretive manner in which the minister is making nuclear decisions further undermines open government.  South Africa is a democracy until it comes to nuclear energy, and then it becomes an autocracy. It seems the people have no say, and legal requirements are ignored or bent to ensure nuclear gets the go ahead. We are now reliant on expensive complex court processes to force government to consult the people that will be most affected – especially the poor and vulnerable who will not be able to afford increasing electricity prices” says Liz McDaid, spokesperson for SAFCEI.

The new court hearing date for the case has been set down for 22nd to 24th February 2017, in the Western Cape high court.

ENDS

For further information, please contact

Ms Liziwe McDaid (SAFCEI)                         liziwe@mweb.co.za      Cell: 082 731 5643

Ms Dominique Doyle (ELA-Jhb) :               dominique@earthlife.org.za      Cell: 079 331 2028          

 

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