Energy Governance South Africa (EGSA) has expressed concern about the way the public hearings process into the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2018 has been conducted in Parliament, saying it had been a "one-way flow of information, without interrogation and interaction".
The organization has penned a joint letter to the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Energy, Fikile Majola, on behalf of a host of nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), some of which presented to Parliament during the hearings.
“The question and answer sessions did not happen, and the Members of Parliament did not openly interrogate what was presented to them, despite some of the presentations clearly showing conflicting information. Our view is that this does not constitute meaningful engagement,” said EGSA, which describes itself as a network of concerned individuals and organisations dedicated to promoting good governance in the energy sector.
EGSA said one example was "the claim that Koeberg supports 64 000 jobs annually, whereas the Eskom website puts this number at 1 200".
“It is still not clear how these inputs will feed into the IRP update process, or how this links to the work by the Department of Energy in finalising the IRP. This should have been explained at the outset in the invitation for public submissions.”
The organisation called for the draft IRP to be based on only the latest, accurate and objective data for the modeling assumptions.
“Furthermore, it must verify and reference all sources of information, findings and conclusions, including those regarding gross domestic product forecasts, energy-intensity, learning rates, job creation, and costs of different technology options.”
EGSA said the IRP’s Reference Case should be the least cost combination of technologies to achieve South Africa’s electricity requirements. The IRP should also operate within ‘a strict, ambitious carbon budget’ aligning with the latest scientific consensus of keeping global temperature rise to below 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.
The association also said more attention should be given to the voices of people from communities, as they were most affected by electricity prices and environmental impacts, yet had the least access to involvement in the IRP process.
During public hearings over the period of two weeks, MPs have asked occasional questions to the presenters.
The letter was signed by over 25 organisations ranging from Earthlife Africa, WWF South Africa and Greenpeace South Africa to the South African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute and the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance.
Meanwhile, Majola said he responded to a request from Earthlife Africa for 100 printed copies of the draft IRP, which could be distributed among communities. He said he would also give organisations time to comment on the IRP once they had read the printed copies.
Tuleleni Ngubani from the Just Energy Future Campaign told Friday’s hearings that he hoped the public hearings and input from organisations "is not just a tickbox exercise".
“We hope that these presentations and submissions are not only for the purposes of stats and box-ticking, but will be meaningful, and that all points and suggestions will be considered.
“Organisations had requested hard copies so that we are able to summarize the IRP in understandable language to grassroots organisations. The IRP needs to trickle down to those who are most affected by it.”