Carol Paton Writer at Large

The government’s plan to go ahead with two new coal plants built by independent power producers (IPPs) will have only a small effect on the cost of electricity in the future, say top government officials. On Tuesday, energy minister Jeff Radebe and his top officials addressed parliament’s energy committee, responding to some of the key criticisms of the new Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), the government’s energy plan until 2030, published last week. One of the big questions to emerge so far is whether the government should proceed with the two coal IPPs of 500MW each that were commissioned two years ago. While the bidders have been selected, work has not yet begun on the plants, prompting critics to urge that the government abandon them in preference for cheaper and cleaner renewable energy. The idea behind the IRP methodology is to produce "the least-cost plan" to provide the cheapest electricity. Policy makers frequently make "policy adjustments" for reasons other than cost, which...

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