Cape Town - The National Planning Commission in its revised plan repeats a warning on the cost of nuclear power, government's preferred alternative to fossil fuels, and instead advocates a diverse mix of energy sources.

The plan, handed to President Jacob Zuma in Parliament on Wednesday, advocates investigating shale and coalbed methane reserves as a cheaper alternative.

“If gas reserves are proven, and environmental concerns alleviated, then development of these resources and gas-to-power projects should be fast-tracked,” the plan states.

It also calls for building the necessary infrastructure to import liquefied natural gas, and for increased hydro-power imports from the region.

The update of the original plan released in November, only slightly revises energy targets the country needs to meet by 2030. This includes acquiring at least 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy and decommissioning 11,000 megawatts of ageing coal-fired power stations.

In response to widening concern about the country's ageing distribution network, and a maintenance backlog of some R35

billion, the commission proposes ring-fencing the distribution business of the country's 12 largest municipalities and developing a finance plan to tackle repairs. - Sapa