Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe on Friday said the utility intended to issue requests for proposals for the nuclear programme before the end of June. In December last year, Eskom released a non-binding request for information in relation to the nuclear programme. Companies have until the end of this month to respond to the request for information.
The request for information is meant to gather information, including experience related to recent nuclear project capacities and costs, proposed financing solutions and localisation opportunities.
“The response so far has been positive. We have an idea of what we can expect when we release the request for proposals. It is an indication of who can do what at what cost,” said Phasiwe.
He said companies that have not responded to the request for information would not be barred from responding to the binding request for proposals.
The DA last week raised a furore over the Eskom decision, saying the move was meant to accelerate the nuclear build programme and was meant to rush through the procurement process.
The cabinet last year designated Eskom as the procurer, owner and operator of nuclear power plants with the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation as an owner and operator of front-end fuel facilities, including the multi-purpose reactor. Eskom said it asked the Treasury to waive certain requirements in terms of the Public Finance Management Act regulations on funding and the period for which tenders remained valid.
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“Eskom can confirm that during the Eskom discussions with the National Treasury’s Office of Chief Procurement Officer on March 28 this year Eskom raised the areas of the current National Treasury Regulations which might need to be waived for the proposed Nuclear New Build Procurement process,” Eskom chief nuclear officer Dave Nicholls said on Friday.
The utility said the affected areas related to the proposed evaluation criteria, which would include elements of localisation, the extension of the bid validity from 12 weeks to two years, the requirement for “self-designation” under the Department of Trade and Industry’s local content regulations as well as the National Treasury's Standard for Infrastructure Procurement and Delivery Management (SIPDM) procurement gate 4.
“The need for the waiver on the SIPDM gate 4 was to align the process with the cabinet decision for the vendors’ responses to the Request for Proposals to form the basis of the funding model that had to be submitted to cabinet by the Department of Energy. Therefore, the finalisation of the budget and funding issues would not be possible prior to RFP issue,” said Nicholls. He said the SIPDM came into force on July 1 last year and predated the work done by Eskom on the feasibility of new nuclear power stations.