‘Nu­clear is a life­line for the long term’

Afro Voice (Northern Cape) - - INSIDE - THELMA NGOMA thel­man@the­newage.co.za

THE chair­per­son of the South African Nu­clear En­ergy Cor­po­ra­tion, Dr Kelvin Kemm, yes­ter­day said that South Africa does not have a lux­u­ri­ous sur­plus of elec­tric­ity and in­sisted that the coun­try should be us­ing much more.

“The pay­ing cus­tomer base was eroded, due to the se­ri­ous en­ergy short­age ini­ti­ated in 2007­8. Sub­se­quently the in­come of Eskom dropped dras­ti­cally and then very ex­pen­sive re­new­able en­ergy was ac­quired in a rush to plug the short­fall,” Kemm said.

“Now Eskom has to pay for that de­ci­sion. How­ever, Koe­berg nu­clear power sta­tion re­mains Eskom’s cheap­est elec­tric­ity and it has many years of life left,” he said.

He told The New Age that ac­cord­ing to the pro­jec­tions of a dozen years ago, the coun­try should now be us­ing 50% more elec­tric­ity than it cur­rently used.

Ted Blom, a part­ner at Min­ing & En­ergy Ad­vi­sors said that Eskom had a mas­sive and grow­ing sur­plus of elec­tric­ity, which was be­ing com­pounded by the forced im­ple­men­ta­tion of ad­di­tional, ex­pen­sive and sub­sidised re­new­ables. En­ergy ex­perts warned The New Age that the pro­posed sign­ing of the 27 power pur­chase agree­ments would also lead to elec­tric­ity hikes for ev­ery South African.

“It ap­pears some­thing will have to break be­fore the rul­ing party will take re­me­dial ac­tion,” Blom said.

He said that Eskom’s dire fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion be­came one of SA’s worst kept se­crets when the util­ity was thrown a 30­day life­line in Fe­bru­ary by the Gov­ern­ment Em­ploy­ees Pen­sion Fund – with­out fol­low­ing proper gov­er­nance pro­ce­dures.

“When the unions be­came aware, Eskom and the PIC de­nied short­cir­cuit­ing pro­ce­dures and promised to re­pay the R5bn bor­rowed within 30 days.

“This loan was re­funded on March 1, but with only a pal­try 7.2% an­nu­alised coupon – a bar­gain by any lend­ing stan­dards given the ur­gency and risk at­tached.”

An ex­pert warns that should Nersa grant Eskom the R66bn claimed for past losses, it will im­me­di­ately trans­late to a 30% hike over and above the 20­30% hike Eskom is be­lieved to be tar­get­ing through its mid­year tar­iff in­crease ap­pli­ca­tion be­fore the end of this year.

Nersa has in­vited the pub­lic to com­ment on Eskom’s re­quest to in­crease tar­iffs to re­cover R66bn lost be­tween 2014 and 2017.

Nersa, how­ever, short­ened the time that con­sumers have to com­ment on the tar­iff in­crease.

Blom says that short­en­ing the time elec­tric­ity con­sumers have to ob­ject to Eskom’s pro­posed tar­iff in­crease by two weeks is “un­fair”.

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