DoE appears to be sneaking key energy policy past public – Outa

Cape Town – The Department of Energy (DoE) appears to be sneaking its New Energy Efficiency Strategy (NEES) past the public, advocacy group Outa said on Wednesday.

By publishing it just before Christmas, “government could be accused of trying to sneak this document past the unsuspecting taxpayers”, Ted Blom, Outa’s portfolio director for energy, said in a statement.

The DoE published the NEES gazette on 23 December 2016 and gave 30 days for public comment. Outa believes this should be extended to 90 days after the finalisation of the draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and Integrated Energy Plan (IEP), which itself has been delayed to beyond March.

DoE spokesperson Johannes Mokobane told Fin24 on Wednesday that deputy director general Ompi Aphane had been informed of Outa’s request and would communicate the department’s decision as soon as possible.

“The gazette seeks to establish a blueprint on energy consumption for the next generation up to 2030, and within its plan lies stringent regulation pertaining to energy consumption and punitive charges or levies for those who do not comply to thresholds set,” Outa explained.

“Outa not only questions the timing of the New Energy Efficiency gazette, but also the rationality of publishing an energy strategy before the IEP or the hotly contended IRP have been finalised.”

Energy Research Centre agrees extension would be 'desirable'

Professor Harald Winkler, director of the Energy Research Centre (ERC) at the University of Cape Town, agreed that an extension would be “desirable”.

He told Fin24 that “more thorough consideration of energy efficiency and demand side management are welcomed”.

“The IEP projections assume a rapid increase in energy efficiency, and that it then remains flat - the assumptions underpinning this should be further considered,” he said.

“A couple of weeks' extension of the deadline is desirable to enable well-considered comments,” he said, referring to his own centre’s planned comment on the NEES.

How DoE wants SA to cut back on energy usage

The DoE said energy efficiency is usually defined as the amount of useful output obtained divided by the energy used to produce that output. “This is the reciprocal of a quantity that is generally referred to as ‘energy intensity’ – the energy used per unit of output obtained,” it explained in the NEES document.

The DoE released the first NEES in 2005 to respond to the increasing demand for energy alongside a growing commitment to improving resource use and reducing the national environmental footprint, the gazette explains.

“This post-2015 NEES aims to build on these achievements, stimulating further energy efficiency improvements through a combination of fiscal and financial incentives, a robust legal and regulatory framework, and enabling measures.”

"Three sectors denominate the total final energy consumption in South Africa: industry and mining (accounting for 35%), transport (accounting for 29%) and residential (accounting for 25%)," the DoE said in the draft NEES.

It wants the country to reduce its energy consumption between 2015 and 2030 by the following:

  • Economy-wide: 29%
  • Industry Sector: 15%
  • Public & commercial sector: 37%
  • Residential sector: 33%
  • Agriculture sector: 30%
  • Transport sector: 39%

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