Energy minister suspends DDG

Energy minister suspends DDG

Ompi Aphane was responsible for electricity planning.

Energy minister Mmamoloko Kubayi confirmed to EE Publishers investigative editor Chris Yelland, that the Department of Energy DDG for Policy, Planning and Clean Energy, Ompi Aphane, who is also responsible for the new updated national Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity, IRP2016, has just been suspended.

Ompi Aphane, deputy DG, Department of Energy. Picture: supplied

Ompi Aphane, deputy DG, Department of Energy. Picture: supplied

The minister indicated that a number of “compliance” issues had been brought to her attention relating to Aphane, and that he was given an opportunity to respond, which he failed to do in the three days he was given.

“I cannot divulge the reasons for the suspension yet as we need to let the internal process take place. We are not saying he is guilty, but we are awaiting an explanation,” said minister Kubayi.

The Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity for which Aphane was responsible is a crucial national planning document intended to review past electricity demand, and to forecast future demand for the next 20 years and more, with detailed plans on how such demand will be met in terms of new generation capacity.

The previous IRP2010-2030 is long out of date, and the updated IRP2016 has been more than two years in gestation, and is still not gazetted. In the meantime the electricity supply industry is stalled, with all plans for new generation capacity – nuclear, coal, hydro, gas, wind and solar PV – on hold.

Energy minister Mmamoloko Kubayi has previously indicated that the final updated IRP2016 would be gazetted by the end of the last quarter of the 2017/18 financial year i.e. end March 2018.

However the interview yesterday with Chris Yelland, minister Kubayi indicated that finance minister Malusi Gigaba requested this be brought forward to end February 2018 to align with the national budgeting process, and that she has committed to this. She also indicated that she would in fact try for an earlier date, perhaps even before the end of 2017.

Asked about the impact of Aphane’s suspension on the timeline for the completion of the national Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) and IRP2016, minister Kubayi responded: “The work on the IEP and IRP is not being slowed down by this. It is being done by a team, and we have appointed an acting DDG to manage Mr Aphane’s responsibilities. I constantly meet with them to check on progress and to make sure they are reaching their timeframes”.

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