Despite terminating its nuclear new build request for information in 2017 following a court decision to halt the process, Eskom is powering ahead with plans in preparation for the tender programme to be rebooted.
Nuclear vendors from France, Russia and China had prepared lengthy documents to submit to Eskom in the first round of the tender process in 2017. Eskom would have proceeded with a request for proposals following this process had the Cape Town High Court not terminated the process, which forced it to reject all request for information submissions.
“All current nuclear procurement processes have been suspended after the Western Cape High Court case,” Eskom’s board said in a shareholder report on September 30, 2017.
“Whilst Eskom has terminated all procurement processes, current development work as the owner and operator is ongoing, in order to reach a state of readiness for construction.
Eskom said that it is conducting “development work as the owner and operator to reach a state of readiness for construction”.
In a section on tax planning, it said that “Eskom plans to conduct research and develop a technical document on the components of a new nuclear power station that should qualify for accelerated capital allowances”.
However, Eskom said current government guarantees does not provide for any further investment in capital expenditure beyond the Medupi and Kusile new build programmes.
While Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has said government does not have the money to provide any further guarantees to Eskom, Energy Minister David Mahlobo and President Jacob Zuma have made it clear that a nuclear programme will go ahead at some point.
“The current government guarantees issued to Eskom does not provide for any investment in future capital expenditure beyond the current committed build programme,” Eskom said in its report.
“As such, Eskom take note of National Treasury’s instruction that Eskom should submit a new application for government support for its consideration, should government decide to restart the nuclear build programme procurement process and mandate Eskom to be the procurer.”
A new study released on Thursday showed that Eskom should not build any new nuclear power stations if it wants to survive as an entity.
“Overall the system level analysis thus shows that South Africa does not need a nuclear, coal or gas procurement programme,” the report by Meridian Economics showed.
Eskom’s shareholder report also shows that Eskom’s cash has dried up and that it is set to make an annual loss of about R3,5bn this year.
The power utility appears to be caught between a bailout and a tariff hike, both of which would have a detrimental impact on South African consumers.
Acting finance chief Calib Cassim told the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) hearing on Thursday that if Eskom could not plug the gap between its revenue and debt servicing costs, it would have to secure a bailout from Treasury.
The bailout will ultimately mean the South African taxpayers would have to pay, Cassim said. “Either the consumer or the taxpayer will have to pay this.”