Civil Society IRP

New power plan jeopardises electricity access for poor

The cost of electricity is the subject of talks around every table in every home in the country.

These costs are heavily influenced by the cost of generating electricity.

Now the Mail & Guardian tells us that President Jacob Zuma is pushing ahead with plans for nuclear plants, “despite uncertainty about the affordability of nuclear energy and the availability of sufficient expertise” (“Zuma slips into nuclear driver’s seat”, July 25).

Eskom told the National Energy Regulator of South Africa that it “need[s] to recover the cost of producing electricity, which includes operating costs as well as the costs of financing new capacity,” through its tariffs. An extremely expensive nuclear programme could seriously jeopardise the crucial social investment of providing electricity.

When you consider that the poorest households spend 32% of their income on electricity, housing, water, gas and other fuels (excluding transport), turning on the lights becomes an expensive option.

Zuma’s enthusiasm for expensive nuclear power is extremely bad news. According to Eskom’s third multiyear price determination application, expenditure beyond R1-trillion can be expected.

This is without financing costs and construction delays. When new nuclear power finally comes online by 2030 or later, electricity from all renewable sources will be cheaper.

Read more on M&G…

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