ANALYSIS: Government’s IRP 2018 Policy Plan is a disaster waiting to happen

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Adil Nchabeleng

The New IRP 2018 Plan from the Department of Energy is finally out and after just reading the plan we are at a cross road and overwhelmed by emotions of excitement and worries at the same time now that the plan is finally out and gazetted.

At first glance, there is huge disappointing news  for new Coal and Nuclear industries and for Unions in general. In contrast, there are massive opportunities for Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and the private sector.

The South African economy needs a strong public sector driven *Baseload Electricity* and energy plan. The current IRP 2018 does not support baseload electricity generation.

At an economic level, the Plan may prove disastrous for the economy and jobs in the long term.

The IRP 2018 overview outlines a plan to shrink to almost extinction the existence of unions, ESKOM and NECSA who are major State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and employers in the energy sector.

This is a significant cause for concern since the energy sector is a such major employer in South Africa’s economic landscape.

Looking forward, more power stations will be shut down and decommissioned and industrialisation will simply grind to a halt and factory will slowly disappear and move to cheaper energy destinations outside South Africa.

The IRP 2018 Plan is anti-development and stands against all principles of a developmental state. There is too much reliance on the private sector and privatisation to leading the plan. The danger in the plan is simply the aggressive approach towards the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement and emissions plans.

Just last week the Prime Minister of Australia was fired for pursuing an aggressive policy in support of the renewables energy sector. He was voted out and replaced by an administration which supports the return of Australia to baseload energy planning and policies.

The other area of concern is the *Cost to Consumers* the IRP plan will have in the short to long term basis. The big price and cost will be paid by consumers for all the new renewable energy sector projects that are now in the pipeline as outlined in the IRP 2018 plan. It is not a surprise it was expected that the workers and consumers will end up paying the biggest price for the privatisation of the energy sector.

We need to all respond to this planned IRP 2018 avalanche and pending catastrophe as workers and consumers in society. The clarion call is to encourage all unions and civil society organisations to organise and mobilise and demonstrate against the Department of Energy for the gazetted IRP 2018 Plan which will destroy jobs and the economy. We need to send a clear message to government and the ruling party that says as workers and civil society we *stand against privatisation* and decommissioning and selling off Eskom assets and tempering with jobs in the energy sector.

This IRP 2018 Plan will cause the ANC to loose major voters support come 2019 elections. The electricity prices are sky rocketing as we speak. The rise in prices of energy (electricity & fuel) has had an impact on workers and consumers. The rise in cost and unemployment due to the stagnant economic growth.

 

At Transform RSA, our observation is that workers unions will not support the energy plan IRP 2018. And what is even concerning is that the plan is championed by the ANC as the leader in government. The policy is anti-SOE and Anti-Workers and Anti-Poor and Anti-Jobs. This is a disaster waiting to happen and come 2019 the ANC is going to feel the heat and experience the pain at the 2019 NGE polls. The workers and consumers and civil society are going to vote against some of these plans.

Affordable electricity is a key issue in our society and the IRP Plan 2018 will not deliver affordable energy. The plan must be revised and updated to reflect a much more realistic and balanced energy planning model that factors all energy related sources.

The energy demand model projections are very low and will not support economic growth. The plan as it stands only favours IPPs and renewable energy sector players. The over subsidisation of the Renewables energy sector by ripping of consumers is a massive blunder that will haunt the ANC in the near future.

The IRP 2018 does not factor in economic growth and economic transformation of the South African society in the coming years. We need economic transformation, new job creation, skills development and massive growth. The renewables energy sector will deliver and has failed to date to produce jobs.

To simply stop building new coal power stations is bad for the economy. Take a good lesson from Australia. No growing economy will close down its existing power stations. These policies will not work for Africa and have never worked for the developed countries either.

The South Africa energy policy is going in the wrong direction. All other developed economies US, India, China, Australia are returning to baseload electricity generation and exiting out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Adil Nchabeleng is the president of TransformRSA