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Energy Council welcomes IRP extension, calls for strong reform message in SoNA

Energy Council CEO James Mackay

Energy Council CEO James Mackay

6th February 2024

By: Terence Creamer

Creamer Media Editor

     

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Energy Council CEO James Mackay has welcomed the decision of the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy to extend the comment period for the draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2023 by a month and has also called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to use his State of the Nation Address (SoNA) to emphasise government’s commitment to “open and robust debate on national energy policy”.

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe used his Mining Indaba address on February 6 to announce that the IRP comment period had been extended to March 23 from February 23 to “allow maximum participation in this process”. However, he refrained from initiating public hearings, which some commentators have called for given serious concerns over the assumptions and modelling used to produce the draft document.

In a statement issued ahead of the SoNA, which is scheduled for February 8, Mackay stressed that national energy policy had multiple and significant impacts on all South Africans and should, thus, be fully debated and be accessible to all, including labour and communities.

“Our reality is that business confidence is near historic low levels resulting in continued reluctance to make the much-needed capital investment required to grow our economy and create jobs.

“It is well accepted that the majority of future energy investment will come from the private sector, so building a national energy vision that has the buy-in of the public and private sector is critical.”

Mackay argued that it was also important for the President to use the SoNA to acknowledge the important role of the private sector, primarily through its efforts within the National Energy Crisis Committee, to tackle the loadshedding crisis and lay the foundations for energy security and a modernised electricity supply industry.

“A strong message in this regard is critical to building investor confidence that is needed to unlock economic growth and job creation.”

Mackay expressed optimism that the historic downward trend of Eskom’s plant availability was being stabilised. But he said that there was still a need to underline accountability at Eskom ahead of Dan Marokane starting work as CEO on March 1 and following the appointment of the new National Transmission Company South Africa (NTCSA) board, ahead of its operationalisation.

He added that the most important reform message in the SoNA should be the urgency of passing the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill (ERA), which was currently before the National Assembly.

“This will help lay the foundation for the long-awaited sector modernisation, including the unbundling of Eskom and the introduction of our first energy market.

“A clear message on ERA will significantly improve confidence in energy policy, including the critical need for grid expansion under the new NTCSA.

“This, in turn, will enable a shift in efforts to focus on efficient regulations and implementation capacity.”

 

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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