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OUTA Objects to Flawed Energy IRP Public Engagement Process

OUTA has written to Minister of Energy, Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson, objecting strongly to the rushed and defective public engagement process for comment on the IRP (Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity).

While the Department of Energy (DOE) have given notice of the presentations to the public at various locations throughout the country on their web site, starting on 7th December 2016, they have not advertised these sessions widely enough and as such, we do not believe this consultative and public engagement process is being conducted meaningfully.

The IRP is some six years late and now Government appears to be rushing this process through without providing the public and civil society organisations with sufficient time to participate.

Furthermore, OUTA believes that the draft IRP has been reverse engineered to force nuclear into the energy mix and this in itself raises numerous questions about why the DOE is rushing this process.

OUTA’s energy team has identified several critical flaws in the IRP documents and methodology. When combined with the defective engagement process, it becomes clear to us that citizens’ rights, entrenched in the constitution, are being trampled upon. It is OUTA’s contention that if left unchallenged, the process to hastily introduce nuclear energy generation as promoted by Eskom and the beneficiaries of State Capture will certainly follow.

“There are significant problems at both a procedural and a technical level. Having waited six years for the updated IRP document, we are now being asked to react in a few days to an incomplete document that has already been gazetted, withdrawn and republished just in the last week. This means that two different versions of the Draft IRP-2016 document are floating about in the public domain and this will add to the confusion,” says Ted Blom, OUTA’s Energy Portfolio Director. “It is a sad day when the laws designed to protect our democracy are being side-lined by a government that claims to defend our hard earned democratic rights.”

The nuclear deal was flagged as a highly suspicious issue several times in the recent Public Protector’s report on State Capture, which also found prima facie evidence of wrongdoing with Eskom, its Board and its recently resigned CEO Mr Brian Molefe.

On Monday 5 December, OUTA wrote to the Minister, requesting her to withdraw the draft IRP-2016 process for a number of reasons, but primarily because it needs to flow from the Integrated Energy Process (IEP), which itself has yet to be finalised. Only once the IEP has followed due process and is promulgated, can the IRP commence, from which South Africa’s electricity plan be meaningfully applied. Until then, the current rushed process becomes meaningless.

While OUTA awaits the Minister’s response to its demands to halt the currently flawed process, OUTA has indicated that it will be presenting its views and input to the IEP and the IRP panel from the DOE at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg on Wednesday 7th December 2016.

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