Call for extension to comments on the IRP

Pretoria - Members of the National Stakeholder Advisory Council on Energy have called for an extension in the period in which the public can comment on the country's long term energy plan - the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2010.

Energy Director General Nelisiwe Magubane said on Friday that while it was agreed that an extension would be looked at, the details still needed to be thrashed out.

"We are still going to discuss with the constituencies how long that time will be," she said.

Magubane was addressing the media after a meeting of the council, chaired by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe. The council, comprising of government, labour, business and communities, held the meeting to discuss the recent release of the draft IRP for public comment.

"What came through from all the constituencies was that while 30 days has been given for public comments, most constituencies would like to have more time to discuss some of these issues taking into consideration that the IRP 2010 is a fairly complex document," she said.

Magubane said the extension would not impact on the dates for public hearings held by Nersa in November. "We have no intentions of changing the dates for public hearings because whatever extension is going to be granted we are convinced that the hearings will not be impacted."

She added that the Deputy President had said he would like to see that work around the document is completed by the end of the year.

Raymond Parsons, who represented business at the meeting, agreed that because of the complexity of the IRP it would be necessary for stakeholders to have a little more time in which to make their input.

"The far reaching importance of these decisions about the future supply of electricity that they be the right decisions from the onset," he said, adding that this was an important decision to take to ensure economic growth.

He said one of the issues which came out strongly during the meeting was ensuring power supply and that there needed to be collaboration between partners. "We need more certainty, for those who have to take business decisions about the long term they want to be assured of the security of supply," Parsons said.

Organised labour representative Bheki Ntshalintshali was pleased that how the plan would impact on the poor was one of the issues discussed at the meeting. In February Eskom was granted tariff increases ranging from 24.8 percent to 25.9 percent over a three year period.

"We wanted to discuss the issue of cushioning the poor as everybody knows that in the subsequent tariff application there were high increases given," said Ntshalintshali, adding that everybody was committed to cushioning the poor. - BuaNews