Group that ended Eskom’s nuclear bid plans next move

Cape Town – The Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (Safcei) has moved on from its court victory over government and Eskom in April, which set aside the nuclear procurement programme.

A month after winning the court bid, Safcei spokesperson Liz McDaid said the victory opened space for other civil society organisations to come together to keep the nuclear programme from moving forward.

READ: Nuclear chiefs regroup in SA as minister pledges fresh start

McDaid, who was engaging with stakeholders in Khayelitsha last week, told Fin24 that the court victory was a major boost in bringing other stakeholders together.

“For civil society, this has opened a space,” she said. “It has meant that organisations involved in child care, youth work (and) social justice have realised what the impact of such a deal could have on their work.

“Right now, it’s up to civil society to consolidate that gain, to spread that message and to mobilise going forward.”

McDaid said Safcei would focus its attention on the Department of Energy’s draft integrated resource plan and energy plan, which is currently undergoing stakeholder engagement and public hearings.

“One of our critical areas is the electricity plan, which was five years out of date,” she said. “We want to make sure that process runs properly and that renewable energy is given its proper place, because we want to see South Africa move into the future.

“The future energy is definitely renewable and not nuclear,” she said.

WATCH: Liz McDaid updates Fin24 with latest plans

What government plans to do

Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi announced in May that she was restarting the nuclear procurement process by signing new agreements with the US, China, South Korea, Russia and France in June.

The procurement programme will only begin officially when Eskom releases its request for proposals.

For this to occur, the following will likely still need to be done:

• Government must sign intergovernmental agreements with the relevant countries listed above, which will likely take longer than a month (perhaps even more than year), as announced by the minister. This will then need to be ratified by Parliament.

• Government must complete its updated national electricity plan (Integrated Resource Plan), which is undergoing public engagement and can only be completed in March 2018. The Department of Energy has indicated it might move ahead without completing this plan, but that would see a new court action launched.

• Regulator Nersa will need to hold stakeholder engagements and public hearings as part of a draft ministerial determination to procure nuclear energy.

• Once this is approved, the minister will gazette a ministerial determination to procure nuclear energy. This will likely also include assigning the procurement agent as Eskom and state-owned nuclear firm Necsa. This assignment was cancelled in the court ruling, so needs to take place again.

• Treasury will need to sign off on the request for proposal, before Eskom and Necsa can publish the documents. They will probably not publish a request for information as they did last year and move straight to this process. This will then be the official start of the nuclear procurement programme.

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