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Nersa gives Karpowerships the green light

Published Sep 22, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - Environmental rights groups have decried the National Energy Regulator of South Africa’s (Nersa) apparent approval of electricity generation licences for the Karpowership project.

The project has been mired in controversy since it was touted more than a year ago to supply about 1 220 megawatts of electricity in a contract worth an estimated R218 billion over two decades.

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Karpowership SA proposed to locate the three powership projects at the Ports of Richards Bay, Ngqura and Saldanha to generate electricity from natural gas to be evacuated through transmission lines to substations linking to the national grid.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) on Tuesday night said Nersa approved generation licences for seven preferred bidders in the Risk Mitigation IPP power programme, including three Karpowership licences, despite public opposition and without any explanation.

“Outa finds it unacceptable that Nersa approves the generation licences, but fails to provide the public with reasons immediately. How are these projects approved if the reasons for decisions are not carefully considered and written up?

“The public has a right to know why these decisions are made. These reasons are also required if the decisions are to be challenged in court. This lack of transparency has been an ongoing problem in this process,” Outa said.

“The Karpowerships are to be anchored in Richards Bay, Saldanha Bay and Coega, and between them provide 1 220 MW through floating storage and regasification power plants. A 20-year deal could cost up to R218bn.

“During the recent public comment period, OUTA submitted a formal submission to Nersa opposing the Karpowership licences.”

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Coastal communities previously said the decision would negatively impact on local fishers’ livelihoods.

The Green Connection (GC) said it was frustrated by the decision.

The organisation works with small-scale fishers and coastal communities around the country to promote the protection of oceans, especially from oil and gas drilling.

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As part of its #WhoStoleOurOceans initiative, the environmental justice organisation is raising awareness about issues of human rights, to empower small-scale fishing communities – historically marginalised and ignored – to confidently engage with decision-makers on issues that affect them and their livelihoods.

“GC finds it totally unacceptable that the Nersa has approved electricity generation licences for the Karpowership project, which has been mired in controversy since it was touted as a so-called emergency solution, more than a year ago.”

Cape Times

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