DA submits PAIA application on the Eskom’s coal-fired power stations report

Issued by Samantha Graham-Mare MP – DA Shadow Minister of Electricity
18 Oct 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Samantha Graham-Mare MP

The DA has submitted a Promotion of Access to Information (PAIA) application to National Treasury to request a copy of a report on the state of Eskom’s 14 coal-fired power stations conducted by German consortium VGBE Energy.

In his Budget Speech on 22 February 2023, Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana announced that National Treasury would be commissioning an independent assessment of the operations of Eskom’s coal fleet and that the Eskom Debt Relief strategy would be contingent on the implementation of the recommendations emanating from this study.

VGBE Energy was appointed by Treasury to fully evaluate the coal-fired power plants to ascertain which of these can be restored to original equipment manufacturers’ standards. In addition, the team was tasked with undertaking a skills assessment and providing recommendations on operational improvements aimed at strengthening the utility’s generation capacity.

The recommendations should include inter alia matters of procurement, maintenance regimes and the availability of spare parts.

The report was due to be completed by the end of July and was presented to the Minister in mid-September 2023. Indications are that the Ministry of Finance requested the consultants to extend their mandate and investigate the viability of extending the lives of the coal-fired power stations in order to boost power generation.

The DA believes that it is in the public interest for this report to be made available. Loadshedding is a national crisis that, despite the assurances of Minister of Electricity, Dr Ramokgopa is not likely to be solved in the short term. Government is not only under pressure from ordinary South Africans, but also from two ostensible competing interests – the coal industry and the renewable energy sector, both advocating for different approaches to find solutions to the electricity crisis.

Given that National Treasury has now apparently skewed the report by unilaterally changing the mandate of the consultants towards finding a coal-based solution to the energy crisis, it is imperative that we have access to this report to ensure that this ANC government makes rational decisions in a transparent manner. With the 2024 elections mere months away, we are at risk of ANC politics trumping sound policy decisions, potentially leading to short-term solutions that may not serve the long-term interests of the nation.

If we are to Rescue South Africa from total collapse, we have to demand transparency and accountability from the ANC government and access to the VGBE Report will go some way to ensuring this.

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