Legalbrief, 19 March, 2019
|Pollution: Coal power killing 1 850 a year in SA – Greenpeace
Eskom estimates that emissions from its coal-fired power stations kill 534 people a year – but an independent review of Eskom’s data estimates that the number of people who die is at least 1 850 a year. According to a Fin24report, Greenpeace says Eskom has misled the public and the government by underestimating the health costs of its 13 coal power stations. It believes that Eskom’s down-playing of the health costs is an attempt by the utility to get a postponement from government in having to comply with air pollution legislation. Complying with the legislation would require Eskom to ‘retrofit’ its power stations by installing new emission control equipment on its entire coal fleet, an expensive outlay on an ageing fleet. Eskom maintains that a cost-benefit analysis has shown that the high cost of installing equipment to cut harmful emissions far outweighs the benefits to human health. This was the gist of Eskom’s application to the Department of Environment Affairs when it applied for a postponement in having to meet the emission standards. But the independent experts commissioned by Greenpeace to review Eskom’s data in its application, say Eskom’s analysis is flawed, and that the benefits of fitting the emissions-control equipment are at least five times greater than Eskom had calculated.
Still with the dangers of coal pollution: Environmental justice organisation groundWork last week launched a new report, Boom and Bust in the Waterberg. The study documents the history of coal mega projects that have reshaped this remote corner of the country. A report on thegroundWork site notes that the NGO opposes any more development in the area. It said: ‘as the impacts of climate change are increasingly devastating, and the Waterberg is particularly vulnerable, we conclude that developing more coal mines and power stations constitute climate crimes. More coal would also leave mountains of smouldering discard dumps and large ash heaps producing pollution at ground level’. ‘Another energy future is necessary as a matter of survival and requires a rapid phase out of coal and a just transition to people’s power and a more equal society,’ the report quotes groundWork as saying.
|Litigation: Coal transporters seek to block IPP deals
Eskom’s deals with independent power producers (IPPs) came under scrutiny when the Coal Transporters Forum yesterday asked the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) to prevent the parastatal from signing any agreements with the producers. A TimesLIVE report notes that the forum has asked the court to stop Eskom from signing power purchase agreements with a number of IPPs pending the National Energy Regulator (Nersa) decision on granting generation licences to the IPPs. The IPPs themselves, Eskom, the Energy Minister and Nersa have all opposed the application, urging the court to dismiss it with costs. Judgment has been reserved. Wim Trengove SC, for the IPPs, said the forum sought to interdict the conclusion of the purchase power agreements, but he said: ‘The evidence … is that all these agreements, but for three, have been concluded.’ He added that as an alternative relief, the forum had sought an order declaring that the agreements were invalid. ‘These administrative decisions may only be set aside on review. At no time did the forum contend these agreements are unlawful,’ Trengove said.