Eskom on Friday said the public discourse on its nuclear-procurement plans was biased, lacked intellectual depth and failed to grasp the technical complexities or the social benefits of the programme.
Responding to an article in Business Day, Eskom’s head of corporate affairs, Chose Choeu, complained: “The nuclear new build programme has suffered the unbridled mangling by various roleplayers, relentlessly to an extent that it has been soiled enough to assume the undesired status of a crude swearword.”
Choeu suggested that those who were commenting on the programme were not making a real attempt to “fully understand the mechanics of this irretrievably technical subject”.
“There is a general lack of the appreciation of the national value proposition innate to the nuclear new build, as a socioeconomic solution,” he said.
He took issue with a report in Business Day on Wednesday, saying it erroneously created the impression that Eskom usurped the department of energy’s mandate to become the procurer of new nuclear reactors.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.
“The Section 34 determination was amended for the sole intention to enable Eskom to take a lead in the nuclear new build programme … It defies all shades of logic to suggest that Eskom can successfully rise against our own shareholder representative, which is technically the case owing to the fact that we are state-owned.”
The department retained the mandate to decide on the programme, and this could not be undone by Eskom.
“This is a nonnegotiable policy matter and Eskom cannot reasonably, or otherwise, stake a claim thereof.”
The department of energy has been ordered by the Western Cape High Court to provide documents outlining the decision last year to designate Eskom as the procurer of additional nuclear energy capacity. The court is preparing to hear argument in February in a case that is seeing environmental pressure group Earthlife Africa challenge the decision to hand this role to the power utility.
Choeu said the case had been reported in such a manner as to cast Eskom in a negative light.