Despite calls to suspend the nuclear procurement, state government still indicates it’s still open to the purchase as it has cleared the way for the procurement programme to proceed.
The shocking news was announced by Eskom and Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday where he said the state own utility would issue a call to market for proposals this week.
The announcement also brought to halt SA Faith Communities Environmental Initiative (Safcei)’s court application to set aside the nuclear procurement. The matter was postponed to early next year to give Eskom the opportunity to respond to questions raised concerning its purchase.
Making his announcement at the start of Tuesday’s proceedings, Joemat-Pettersson said the energy department would gazette a new determination under the Electricity Regulation Act to procure nuclear energy.
At the start of Tuesday’s proceedings, Joemat-Pettersson said the department of energy would this week, gazette a new determination under the Electricity Regulation Act to procure nuclear energy. He signed off the determination on December 5 and the National Energy Regulator of SA had concurred on December 7
The department’s legal team also informed the court on Tuesday that the responsibility for the 9.6GW nuclear build procurement had shifted from the department to Eskom.
As such, a ruling on the legalities of the procurement determinations could affect Eskom, without having been given an opportunity to make representations. This needed to be taken into account by the court, said advocate Marius Oosthuizen SC.
On the sidelines of the court proceedings Eskom acting CEO Matshela Koko told news reporters that the determination would be gazetted this week and that once this happened, Eskom’s only task was to implement the will of the state.
“We have a determination that has been given to us by the minister. We are not government nor do we direct how government works. We implement what we are directed to,” he said.
Meanwhile, Safcei and Earthlife Africa stated that the shocking announcement of government’s decision to proceed with the nuclear procurement is a twist of events” and a “tricks up government’s sleeve”.
“This was nothing short of a very clever delay and divide tactic. Instead of arguing the legalities and constitutionality of the determination [which were] made in 2013 and then kept secret for two years, the courts were taken aback and consumed by the astounding new evidence and by trying to make head or tail of it,” Earthlife’s Dominique Doyle said.
Decisions on energy planning are being publicly debated in consultations over the Integrated Resource Plan. The plan’s base case argument is that nuclear energy should be postponed until 2037.