The Portfolio Committee on Energy met to consider and adopt its Committee Legacy Report 2009 -2014 and also to consider outstanding minutes and reports.
Members were asked to pay close attention to the recommendations made to the Legacy Report. The Committee expressed concern that it had not adopted any legislation throughout the 4th Parliament. The main reason for this was that some of the legislation that was supposed to come to the Committee was never introduced- these included amendments to the Electricity Regulation Act (ERA) and the National Energy Regulatory Act (NERA). There Committee further noted that there were a couple of Bills which were simply moving to and from between Nedlac, the Department of Energy and Cabinet. Another concern for the Committee was the security of supply of energy, particularly in the short-term. This needed to be the first thing which the next Committee tackled to ensure that the country had adequate security supply of electricity and that the plans to avoid load-shedding were clear. In addition there were also a number of outstanding policy documents which the new Parliament needed to deal with. One of which was the Gas Utilisation Master Plan. The roll out of gas infrastructure was also another key area which the 5th Parliament needed to pay attention to.
The Legacy Report was adopted with amendments. All outstanding minutes and reports were also adopted but without any amendments.
Chairpersons’ opening remarks
The Chairperson welcomed Members to the meeting. Given the pressure of time, he stated that the Committee would only be focusing on reports and the adoption of minutes. He also noted that there was a strong drive from the Speakers’ Office for committees to complete their Legacy Reports. Members where therefore asked to pay close attention to the recommendations made by the Committee from the work done since 2009. The challenges also needed to be considered.
Adoption of minutes:
The Committee adopted its minutes dated 4 March 2014 without amendments.
Consideration of Committee Legacy Report
The Chairperson said Members needed to look at the key work done by the Committee during the 4th Parliament. According to the strategic objectives listed in the Committee’s 5-year Strategic Plan; how did the Committee perform? The Committee was also required to give a narrative of its work on an annual basis. The Committee however did not need to make any Statutory Appointments, such as the appointments of Board Members. He said all board appointments in institutions such as the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (NECSA) were done by the Department of Energy. The Committee also did not formally receive any petitions. Members where then asked to have a look at the recommendations outlined in the report. All the annexures would be attached to the report.
Mr S Radebe (ANC) said it was very important that Members were given a copy of the master attendance register. It should have been mentioned that the Committee was initially chaired by Hon E Thabete (ANC) before Hon S Njikelana (ANC) took over, so that the Chairperson did not take responsibility for things that he was not aware of.
The Chairperson agreed that the master attendance register be circulated so that Members could be satisfied with it. He agreed that the Report did make clear that Hon Thabete was the first Chairperson for the Committee and he later replaced her in 2010. This change should be made.
Mr J Smalle (DA) referred to the recommendations made around legislation, why was there no reference made about the Independent Systems and Market Operator (ISMO) Bill?
Mr L Greyling (ID) said the Committee needed to be a little bit stronger around the need for the restructuring of the electricity industry, in line with the White Paper on Energy. One of the key things of the 5th Parliament was looking at the broader restructuring of the electricity industry, with ISMO being a part of that. The 5th Parliament needed to make this the main focus of its work. Other pieces of legislation which were supposed to come to the Committee did not come, such as the Electricity Regulation Act (ERA) and the National Energy Regulatory Act (NERA). And so there had been serious delays pertaining to those legislations. The key point to make was that the Committee did not deal with any legislation during the 4th Parliament.
Mr Smalle said it was a key challenge was the delay of legislation being brought before the Committee and this needed to be highlighted.
The Chairperson recommended that the Committee in the 5th Parliament should ensure that the 5-point plan for adopting legislation be taken into consideration. Part of this 5-point plan was the restructuring of the electricity sector.
Mr Greyling said the 5-point plan which the Committee followed for the adoption of the ISMO Bill was primarily dealing with the report on the cost benefit of the Transmission System Operator (TSO), and did not include any matters on an end-state of electricity. What the Committee needed to address was the vision of and end-state for the electricity industry and the kinds of legislation and policy which were needed to reach this end state. This needed to be made a key recommendation for the 5th Parliament.
The Chairperson agreed with Mr Smalle.
Ms B Ferguson (COPE) asked whether all the recommendations made around the end-state of electricity would be made available for Members to sign before they were adopted as part of the Report.
The Chairperson said there would be a “round-Robin” therefore the amendments would be circulated to Members for consideration.
Mr Greyling said another relevant matter was that of the security of supply, particularly in the short-term. This needed to be the first thing which the next Committee tackled to ensure that the country had adequate security supply of electricity and that the plans to avoid load-shedding were clear.
The Chairperson agreed that the outstanding legislation needed to be looked into. There were a couple of Bills which were simply moving to and fro between the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), the Department of Energy and Cabinet.
Ms Ferguson made a suggestion that the Committee request a full list of all outstanding legislation from Nedlac with an indication of where they were sitting.
The Chairperson said that would be very difficult because there were three entities; Nedlac, the Department of Energy and Cabinet, so ideally the sponsor takes the Bill. Therefore in essence all the Committee could do was just list the outstanding legislation and all the challenges faced.
Mr Greyling said it was a huge concern that the Committee did not process any legislation in the 4th Parliament, and this was not because of the Committee but rather because the legislation was not made available to the Committee. This needed to be raised as a concern so that the next Parliament ensured that this legislation was processed. In addition there were also a number of outstanding policy documents which the new Parliament needed to deal with. One of which was the Gas Utilisation Master Plan. The roll out of gas infrastructure was also another key area which the 5th Parliament needed to pay attention to.
The Chairperson thanked Mr Greyling for the mention of the Gas Utilisation Master Plan, which was not included in the Report. It may appear that the Committee was not processing legislation on purpose and this was not the case. One of the reasons for this was that the Committee was not sponsoring Bills and until Parliament took it upon itself to draft Bills this would still be a concern.
Mr Greyling said the issue of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) update annually needed to be included in the recommendations so that the Committee in the 5th Parliament monitored this.
The Chairperson agreed and said this would be made as a recommendation to the next Committee.
Mr Smalle moved for the adoption of the Report.
Mr Radebe seconded the adoption.
The Chairperson said all outstanding documents would be circulated to the Committee.
Adoption of Reports:
The following Reports where adopted without amendments:
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Energy on the Energy Stakeholder Meeting, scheduled on 19 September 2013
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Energy on its joint workshop with the Pan African Parliament Committee on Transport, Industry, Communications, Energy, Science and Technology held 10-12 August 2013 in Midrand, Gauteng
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Energy on its public hearings on energy efficiency
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Energy on its study visit to the Touwsrivier Solarpark, Touwsrivier (Western Cape) on 09 March 2012
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Energy on its oversight visit to the Western Cape, scheduled on 31 July – 01 August 2013
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Energy on its oversight visit to KwaZulu Natal, Free State and Gauteng on 27 -31 January 2014
The Chairperson thanked Members for all their work throughout the 4th Parliament.
The meeting was adjourned.
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