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Recent engagements between Minister of Energy Mahlobo and civil society organisations

Joint Media Release: Recent engagements between Minister of Energy Mahlobo and civil society organisations

7 December 2017

Below we set out key events in recent engagements between Minister of Energy David Mahlobo and civil society organisations around the Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity and the Energy Indaba scheduled for 7-8 December 2017.

On 10 November 2017, Greenpeace Africa, together with the Life After Coal Campaign (made up of groundWork, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, and the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER)), sent a letter to the newly-appointed Minister of Energy David Mahlobo to congratulate him on his appointment, to highlight numerous concerns and questions in relation to South Africa’s future energy plans, and to request a meeting with him. No response was received.

On 28 November 2017, a larger number of civil society organisations sent a joint open letter to Minister Mahlobo raising concerns around the planned Energy Indaba, the inadequate consultation around the Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity (IRP), and the Integrated Energy Plan (IEP).

On 29 November 2017, the Minister contacted the CER and invited the organisations who had sent the 10 November letter to a meeting on 5 December 2017. During that call, the Minister indicated that the organisations that had sent the joint open letter had incorrectly assumed that they had been invited to the Energy Indaba convened for 7-8 December 2017.

On 5 December 2017, 6 representatives of CER, groundWork, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and Greenpeace Africa attended a meeting with Minister Mahlobo and 5 representatives from the Department of Energy, held in Johannesburg. The contents of this meeting are recorded in the attached letter sent to the Ministry today.

Importantly, at the meeting on 5 December 2017, the Minister made it clear that:

  1. there would be no further public participation on the contents of the IRP before its approval by Cabinet, and its subsequent publication; and
  2. the Energy Indaba was not intended to address the IRP in any way, shape or form – instead it was for business, labour, and government to discuss ways to reinvigorate the energy sector in order to stimulate economic growth.

The organisations who attended the meeting with the Minister have reported fully on the contents of the meeting to a broad coalition of civil society and community-based organisations working on energy issues. A number of these organisations attended a meeting on 6 December 2017 to discuss recent events, the state of the IRP, and the Energy Indaba.

At this stage, we know that:

  1. very few civil society organisations were invited to the Indaba, and people from affected communities and members of the public have not been involved in this process at all;
  2. a number of civil society organisations who tried to register for the Indaba did not have their registration confirmed;
  3. others who tried to register by email had their emails returned as undelivered, presumably because the email address for registrations was full;
  4. the evening before the Indaba, 6 December 2017, representatives of at least 2 civil society organisations were invited to the Indaba, although the invitation indicates that a response to the invitation was required by 4 December 2017;
  5. the leaked, and allegedly confidential draft agenda for the Indaba does not address any of the issues raised repeatedly by civil society organisations as serious concerns around South Africa’s electricity plans – including nuclear, coal and renewables, and the IRP;
  6. the final agenda will only be made available to delegates on registration at the Indaba on 7 December 2017; and
  7. the media advisory circulated to certain members of the media on 4 December appears to have been since amended. Whereas the initial advisory stated that “the Indaba will be attended by all energy stakeholders including academics, and civil society,” the amended version no longer states that civil society will be attending.  The initial advisory indicated that the Indaba’s purpose is to “stimulate a national conversation for South Africans to find solutions towards a sustainable energy sector”. By contrast, the amended version indicates that the Indaba
    “brings together various role players in reigniting economic growth amid the challenges of growth”.

The Minister has failed to respond to our joint open letter of 28 November 2017. In particular, the Minister has failed to provide the long list of information requested on numerous occasions by organisations – and formally from the Department through the Promotion of Access to Information Act – included in the list below.

The undersigned civil society organisations wish to make it clear that we regard the consultation around the IRP as inadequate, and susceptible to legal challenge. Furthermore, we do not regard the Energy Indaba as a legitimate process for the discussion of South Africa’s energy future – a discussion which should include members of civil society, particularly members of communities most impacted by the pollution and harmful effects of electricity generation; and labour.

The serious concerns that we have raised with the Minister remain, even after the meeting that was scheduled on 5 December 2017. We now await the publication of the IRP, following which we will decide the way forward, which may include further litigation.







Notes on a meeting with Mr David Mahlobo, Minister of Energy on % December, 2017


These four NGOs had a meeting with the Minister of Energy on 5 December, 2017. The meeting was granted at very short notice, so only these four interested parties were able to attend.

Here are the meeting notes sent to the Minister:

The Honourable Mr David Mahlobo, MP Minister of Energy

By email: zinhle.mbhele@energy.gov.za; deidre.nkopane@energy.gov.za david.mahlobo@energy.gov.za

Copies to: Mr Vusimusi Sekgobela Mr Thami Mthembu Chief of Staff Stakeholder Relations Manager Department of Energy Department of Energy By email: vusimuzi.sekgobela@energy.gov.za

By email: thami.mthembu@energy.gov.za Ms Nomvula Khalo Ministry: Media Liaison Officer Department of Energy By email: nomvula.khalo@energy.gov.za

7 December 2017

Dear Minister


1. We address you on behalf of the Life After Coal Campaign (consisting of the Centre for Environmental Rights, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, groundWork), and Greenpeace Africa. We write to thank you for our meeting on 5 December 2017 and briefly to record some of the key points from our discussions.

Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity (IRP)

2. You indicated in the meeting that you regarded the IRP not as a policy, but rather an operational plan, related to implementing already existing policy. You indicated that you view the National Energy Act of 2008 as the applicable policy.

3. You advised us that “everything” had been put on hold pending the finalisation of the IRP. We understood this to mean that all energy procurement processes were on hold. However, you indicated that a decision had been made on renewable energy independent power producers bid windows 3.5 and 4 and this would be announced by the President this Thursday, 7 December 2017 (today).

4. You advised us that all public participation on the IRP had been concluded and that the IRP had been sent to Cabinet for approval, which you expected by the end of the year; whereafter it would be published for implementation. We confirm, as we have recorded in previous correspondence, that there was only public participation on the base-case and assumptions, and not on the various scenarios or the policy-adjusted IRP, and that we received no responses to any submissions made on the IRP, or to requests for any documents requested for purposes of commenting on the IRP. We also indicated to you at the meeting that the public participation for this IRP has differed from the process followed for the IRP2010, when there were several opportunities for interested and affected parties to give input. In response, you advised that the IRP2010 was about setting a baseline, and the same process was not necessary for the IRP2016, on which, in your view, there had been adequate public participation. Although we were not able to elaborate further on this in the meeting, we confirm that we believe that the level of consultation on the IRP2010 created a precedent in terms of what constitutes adequate public participation, and that we believe it is inadequate to only seek input from the public on the most initial of the models and scenarios. Moreover, such consultation as has taken place was only conducted in bigger urban centres to the exclusion of many communities directly affected by the IRP, such as mining-affected communities, and communities affected by air and water pollution from coal-fired power stations.

5. You advised us that all energy sources will be in the IRP (we take this to mean the sources listed in the IRP2010, namely natural gas, hydro, landfill, pumped storage, coal, wind, solar PV, CSP, nuclear, and diesel), but that the allocation of these sources would be proportionally reduced in the IRP, because of reduced demand for electricity. You indicated that there would be “devastating” impacts if any energy source were excluded; that the game needed to be fair, with a “level playing field”, and you were the referee. You said that the “mantra” was that all energy sources must comply with pace, scale, affordability, and environmental requirements. Energy policy is, you advised, based on what we have available to us, and policy could not be changed. Although we were not able to respond to this in the meeting, the evidence is clear that the socio-economic and environmental impacts of some energy sources (coal, nuclear and gas) are significantly higher than others, and after decades of subsidies for coal and nuclear, the playing field is anything but level, particularly in terms of renewable energy.

6. In relation to coal in particular, you advised that coal should not be shut down entirely, but that it should rather use technology like carbon capture and storage (CCS) to ensure compliance with environmental standards. Although we were not given the opportunity to raise this at the meeting with you, we must point out that thus far major polluters such as Eskom and Sasol have strongly resisted complying with air quality standards, and that CCS has, to date, not been feasibly implemented, nor is it cost-effective. The South African Centre for Carbon Capture and Storage (SACCS), a sub-body under the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) has, to date, not been able to identify a possible suitable site even to pilot the storage of carbon dioxide.

7. In relation to nuclear energy, you indicated that this was the “best option”, but that nuclear waste had to be managed. You indicated that where other countries have had nuclear accidents, there was evidence as to why this had happened. Again, although we were not given the opportunity to respond to this at the meeting, we believe that one cannot underestimate the risk of a nuclear accident in South Africa, and its potentially catastrophic social and economic impacts. The potential for human error combined with nuclear technology means that nuclear is never safe.

8. You commented that, for renewable energy, it is a technology type that is variable – there is not always enough sun and wind and that dust particles in wind – and the wind blowing at the wrong speed – could destroy the turbines. Again, although we were not given the opportunity to respond to this at the meeting, based on extensive scientific research and modelling undertaken by reputable research institutions, we do not agree with this assessment.

9. On modelling, you said that you are advised by experts, and that we NGOs were not experts in modelling, and that we were “over-reaching” to seek to interrogate the modelling. Although we were not given the opportunity to respond to this at the meeting, we confirm that multiple experts1 1 https://www.csir.co.za/sites/default/files/Documents/20170331CSIR_EC_DOE.pdf. The CSIR has since updated its alternative IRP. A presentation on the update can be accessed at http://rodoyo.com/gtac/GTAC%20in%20Pretoria%20-%20Energy%20Planning%20-%20TBN%20- had confirmed that no new nuclear or coal power was required. Other research shows: that Eskom should accelerate the decommissioning of 3 of its older coal-fired power stations (Hendrina, Grootvlei and Komati) and curtail the completion of Kusile units 5 and 6 in order to save costs; these interventions can be achieved without affecting security of supply; and that these interventions could save Eskom up to R17 billion.

Energy Indaba, 7-8 December 2017

10.You advised that the Energy Indaba was a meeting for labour, business, and government to discuss how to reinvigorate the struggling economy and address unemployment. At this meeting, business and bankers would sit together and determine how to ensure investment to promote the sector. You clarified that the indaba is not to discuss the IRP or any energy-related policy as this is before Cabinet. You told us that we had incorrectly assumed that we had been invited to the indaba.

11.On 6 December 2017 at 20h05 – the evening before the Indaba – Robyn Hugo of the CER received an invitation to attend the Indaba, with a registration form, but no agenda. None of the other representatives of the organisations who attended the meeting with you on 5 December 2017 have subsequently received invitations to the Indaba.

Future engagement

12.You indicated that you wished to have a broader civil society discussion in the beginning of next year – after 8 January 2017 – which includes all of the community-based and non-governmental organisations in the sector, and you look forward to a constructive engagement.

13.While we are always prepared to engage with the Minister and Department of Energy on issues of concern, we need to be clear that such commitment to engagement does not exclude our rights to access other strategies, including legal proceedings and peaceful protest, to pursue lawful energy policy that give effect to constitutional rights. In this regard, we attach for your attention our 31 October 2016 statement “No room for secrecy: environmental organisations publish minimum requirements for SA’s overdue Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity” and our 9 November 2017 statement “What we expect from SA’s Integrated Resource Plan for electricity”, setting out what we regard as the minimum requirements for the IRP. %204Aug2017.pdf

The CSIR also did the system analysis which was used for the Meridian Economic study’s reference scenario – and found that in a 34 year, least cost optimised, power system operation and expansion plan, no new coal-fired power capacity is built after Kusile, and no new nuclear plant is built either. It states, “new coal and nuclear plants are simply no longer competitive. When new capacity is required, demand is met at lowest cost primarily from new solar PV and wind”. Furthermore see https://arxiv.org/pdf/1710.11199.pdf . This study by the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies at the GoetheUniversity in Germany, provides independent confirmation of the CSIR findings regarding the least-cost electricity mix for South Africa. It finds that an electricity system based on wind and solar PV can supply electricity demand at 10%-30% more cheaply than based on new coal and nuclear – this is the case even when investments in the grid and transmission of electricity are taken into account.

A study by Grové Steyn, Jesse Burton, Marco Steenkamp, 15 November 2017, available at http://meridianeconomics.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Eskoms-financial-crisis-and-the-viability-ofcoalfired-power-in-SA_ME_20171115.pdf .

14.We request a written response from you to the issues raised in our 10 November 2017 letter, these being:

14.1. clarity on the timelines and immediate next steps in the development of the final IEP and IRP;

14.2. clarity as to what meaningful public participation in the remaining IEP/IRP process will entail, and at what stage/s the public will be able to comment and for what period/s;

14.3. clarity on how meaningful public participation will continue to shape the IEP/IRP process;

14.4. clarity on the status of the existing determinations for coal, nuclear, gas and renewable energy;

14.5. clarity on the way forward with the heavily-delayed Independent Power Producer agreements that Eskom has thus far continued to refuse to sign; and

14.6. the long-term energy vision for South Africa.

15. We ask that you respond to these by 15 December 2017. We also confirm that no response has been received to the open letter from civil society dated 28 November 2017.

We look forward to your response also to this letter by 15 December 2017.

16.Please note that, given the far-reaching national importance of the issues discussed and the fact that we are public interest organisations committed to transparency and accountability, we are placing this letter in the public domain.

Yours sincerely,

CENTRE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS www.cer.org.za and www.lifeaftercoal.org.za GROUNDWORK www.groundwork.org.za and www.lifeaftercoal.org.za EARTHLIFE AFRICA JOHANNESBURG www.earthlife.org.za and www.lifeaftercoal.org.za GREENPEACE AFRICA www.greenpeace.org/africa/

Joint media release: What we expect from SA’s Integrated Resource Plan for electricity

Centre for Environmental Rights (CER), 9 november, 2017

Media reports indicate that the Minister of Energy has instructed the Department of Energy to publish the long-overdue update to the crucially important Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity 2010-2030 (IRP) within the next week.

Energy Minister David Mahlobo (as at 13 November, 2017 anyway). Image: moneyweb

At this critical juncture in South Africa’s energy future, our choices have to be based on sound, accurate, current, and accepted energy policy that will benefit all South Africans. The Life After Coal/Impilo Ngaphandle Kwamalahle Campaign (made up of groundWorkthe Centre for Environmental Rights and Earthlife Africa, Johannesburg) and Greenpeace Africa would like to reiterate our position on what we expect to see in the IRP.


We also express our alarm that, despite earlier  statements in Parliament by the Department of Energy that there would be provision for further consultation on the draft IRP, the Minister has since suggested that a final policy-adjusted IRP will be promulgated without further public participation. To date, stakeholders have only had an opportunity to consider and comment on the draft IRP base case and assumptions published a year ago in November 2016. An open and democratic IRP process requires first, a new base case taking account of those comments, and then open discussion of any variations that will be taken into account in the drafting of a policy-adjusted IRP.  A policy-adjusted IRP without further public participation can only be viewed as illegitimate.

Mahlobo rushes nuclear deal

News24, 5 November, 2017.

(Ed. note: Let’s hope that the DOE remember to take the public submissions into account – especially that of the CSIR, and they must use an unconstrained model to set the base case.)

As Energy Minister David Mahlobo forces his nuclear power plans into action, officials at his department are working weekends to finalise the country’s reviewed integrated energy resource plan – four months ahead of schedule.

The plan to determine the energy mix the country needs was expected to be finalised in February next year, but will now be finished in the next two weeks.

“We would have been talking February, but now we are talking November 14,” said an insider, vouching for the level of hard work the minister was putting into his job.

This would enable Mahlobo to make projections of the country’s future energy demands based on “empirical evidence”.

Last week, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba told City Press that nuclear energy was neither affordable for the sluggish economy, nor immediately necessary.

Mahlobo, who has been in his new job for just more than two weeks after three years as state security minister, is now on a collision course with Gigaba and Treasury.

The nuclear energy plan is expected to cost South Africa about R1 trillion, an amount that economists and politicians from across the spectrum – including the ANC – say the country’s struggling economy cannot afford.

Mahlobo told City Press yesterday morning that government should not be “reckless”, but energy was central to the country’s security and shouldn’t only be treated as an economic issue.

In the opposite room, a group of senior managers waited for Mahlobo to join them for a meeting on the integrated energy resource plan.

“People who say we should not invest do not understand that, each and every day, more companies are closing down and more young people are getting out of employment and even more out of the education system. We are creating soldiers of unemployment,” Mahlobo said.

“Any responsible government will plan well because it is becoming a national security issue. One day these people would have nothing to lose and they will take this government out. The ANC must never be deterred in the face of political parties who want to stop us from implementing our programme.”

Mahlobo said much of the criticism against the nuclear project was based on an “unfounded narrative” about “who is going to win the tender”, which was none of his concern because, “if there is any procurement that is going to be done, the South African laws are going to be followed”.

The countries with the leading technology are France, Russia, the US, South Korea and China. Companies from these countries as well as their governments have been aggressively wooing South Africa’s decision-makers and working to sway public opinion their way. But many believe that President Jacob Zuma’s cosy relationship with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, as well as Mahlobo’s own close ties to the Kremlin and its security establishment, has already tilted the scales in that country’s favour.

When Mahlobo’s predecessor Mmamoloko Kubayi was moved out of the department in the Cabinet reshuffle last month, there was widespread speculation that it was because she was not moving with haste on the nuclear programme.

“An energy solution”

Mahlobo confirmed his close ties with “the leadership of the Russian federation”, adding that not many people have access to the Kremlin, but he does because in his previous job they worked closely together on intelligence operations. However, he denied taking convicts-turned-businessmen Kenny Kunene and Gayton Mackenzie to the Kremlin during a recent trip to Moscow.

Mahlobo said his starting point was that “everyone in the country agreed that, for the economy to work and in order to reduce unemployment, you need to have an energy solution”.

“In our case, we say we want to ensure security of energy and it must be sustainable. That is, you do not want to have disturbances that one day you wake up you do not have sufficient energy or you cannot be able to drive investment.”

He said that although the affordability of the project was a “big issue”, the need for extra energy was genuine and legitimate.

South Africa uses both renewable and nonrenewable energy sources, and the sector contributes directly and indirectly more than 33% of gross domestic product. Other energy sources in the mix include coal, gas, water, solar and wind.

Mahlobo said “the principle of pace, scale and affordability applies to the entire energy mix”.

“The starting point is that we do not have energy that we can guarantee for future generations because it is finite. Whatever source you choose, you must be able to say at what scale, which is the volume you want or the demand met,” he said.

He said that projecting future energy demand for economic growth was “a function of saying who is going to take this energy up like industries, private sector and domestic usage”.

Mahlobo said building nuclear power stations created new industries because it was capital intensive and would take more than 10 years to build.

“Yes, it is expensive when you are building, but immediately [after] a nuclear plant has been built and [has started] to operate, it produces the cheapest electricity than any source. It is actually less than 35c per kilowatt hour, which is very cheap. The renewables are on average around 80c per kilowatt hour, and some are around R1.”

He said the technology in nuclear reactors had also improved and would reduce emissions. “Plus we have a good track record because we have never had reports that Koeberg [Nuclear Power Station in Cape Town] has caused problems in terms of safety and issues of environment,” he said.

Mahlobo said his approach would be informed by a “build, operate, train and transfer” model whereby if government did not have the funds to build it, it would go to the market seeking an investor who would build at their own risk.

“When operations start then government comes in. The investor will want to recoup the investment and make gains. Government then operates on the principle that the cost should not be passed to the end user, and it does so by setting the tariff.”

Mahlobo said it was critical to get the projection figures right to avoid costly mistakes, and the margin of error must be less than 15%.

“The growth of the economy must be our preoccupation and areas of growth must be chosen very well,” he said.
“We will always work with experts because I do not possess all the wisdom. There are people who have been there and they have seen it working.”

Mahlobo said he had no desire to see the country borrow money to fund the nuclear project.

“My first intention is to say who has the appetite to put the structure on the ground and they take the risk,” he said.

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said if the integrated energy resource plan showed the nuclear programme could go ahead, they would begin the tender process immediately.

Here is the link to the article

‘New Guptas’ Gayton McKenzie and Kenny Kunene in multibillion-rand oil deal

Business Day, 17 September, 2017.

South Africa’s “new Guptas” — former jailbirds Gayton McKenzie and Kenny Kunene — are being lined up to be BEE partners in a multibillion-rand gas deal.

The pair, said to enjoy a cosy relationship with President Jacob Zuma, travelled to Russia three weeks ago to sell themselves to Russian company Rosgeo as possible BEE partners in the R5-billion deal.

With them on the plane to Russia were State Security Minister David Mahlobo and two senior Central Energy Fund officials.

During a stopover in Dubai, McKenzie and Kunene had coffee with the CEF officials while Mahlobo was said to have introduced the pair to Rosgeo CEO Roman Panov.

A senior government official said Mahlobo’s presence was to “strengthen the ex-cons’ credibility” as business people.

• Read the full story on the Sunday Times website