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Nuclear power ‘could trigger price increase’


Man, you’ve gotta love Lance Greyling.  Following article from Business Day found here

FURTHER electricity price hikes could be triggered if the government forges ahead with plans to build at least six nuclear power stations, says National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) CEO Phindile Nzimande.

Answering questions before Parliament’s portfolio committee on energy on Tuesday, Ms Nzimande said the regulator was trying to give certainty to investors, but that “other programmes could trigger a price increase.”

Pressed by Independent Democrats MP Lance Greyling, Ms Nzimande said: “We cannot guarantee there will be no trigger (for further price increases) but that the nuclear programme could be that trigger.”

In February, Nersa halved power utility Eskom’s requested electricity price increase to 8% per year for five years, from the 16% for which it originally applied. Eskom stated in its original application that should nuclear power stations be built, the electricity price would have to rise 20%-24% over the same period.

In last week’s energy committee meeting, Department of Energy director-general Nelisiwe Magubane said the Cabinet had instructed that the building of nuclear energy plants was non-negotiable.

Ms Magubane also said that the National Development Plan (NDP) broadly supported nuclear energy.

The NDP recommends that the country approach the building of nuclear energy plants with caution.

South Africa’s overall electricity blueprint, the Integrated Resources Plan, recommends the building of six nuclear generators to be housed in three plants to generate 9,600MW of power for the overall requirement of 52,000MW that the country would have to generate by 2030.

However, the plan is coming up for its mandatory two-year review period.

Later yesterday, in the National Assembly, Mr Greyling said the National Planning Commission was so concerned about the cost of nuclear that it had commissioned the Energy Research Centre to study the issue.

Mr Greyling said the centre had found that should nuclear be chosen, and even if the assumptions were that its costs would be much lower than anticipated, the earliest that nuclear power would be needed would be 2019.

He said that should the nuclear option be chosen, it would lead to a sub-optimal mix of generation capacity that would in turn lead to higher electricity prices.

“The question therefore remains: what other interests are driving these obsessions with these grandiose nuclear plans?” Mr Greyling asked. He said a nuclear build programme could easily cost South Africa R1-trillion.