The Department of Energy has officially moved the procurement of nuclear energy from themselves to Eskom.
The surprise announcement was published in the government gazette yesterday and was signed by Minister Tina Joemat-Petterson on 5 December 2016 and by NERSA on 8 December 2016.
Reasons for this decision were not forthcoming at the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) public participation meeting held in Port Elizabeth today.
Deputy Director General of the Department of Energy, Ompi Aphane sidestepped a question from the floor regarding why Eskom should be the procurement agency for nuclear energy and not the Department.
Aphane was also evasive as to why Eskom was forging ahead with the nuclear build when the IRP clearly states that additional nuclear energy would only be necessary by 2037.
Eskom acting CEO Matshela Koko wasted no time in announcing that Requests for Proposals (RFP) would be released as soon as the Government gazette has been published.
Eskom has also indicated that the new nuclear build could come online as early as 2026, making a mockery of the public participation process for the draft IRP.
Thyspunt is the preferred site for a new nuclear power station, despite residents being concerned with the impact a mega project will have on the infrastructure of the Kouga Municipality.
Meanwhile, Minister Pettersson has been ordered by the Western Cape High Court to pay punitive costs including the costs of four counsel for Earthlife Africa and the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute (SAFCEI) after the state brought forward new evidence minutes before the case was set to begin yesterday.
A court orders punitive costs usually when it is dissatisfied with the conduct of a litigant. This is rare and is considered a strong rebuke.
The DoE’s lawyers surprised the Cape Town High Court with the unpublished gazette on Tuesday, using the determination to force the court to postpone the nuclear deal trial.
Judges Lee Bozalek and Elizabeth Baartman slammed Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson for not informing the court of the determination ahead of the trial and ordered her department to pay for the costs of the applicants’ four advocates and legal teams.
“No explanation of why the fresh determination was issued at the last minute without prior indication was given,” Bozalek said on behalf of the judges. “They have not seen fit to furnish an affidavit explaining this step, despite having the time.