Our winning letter
re: Sociology and technological totalitarianism
I find there is quite a bit one can disagree with in Mike Rycroft’s article “Sociology and technological totalitarianism” which was published on the Energize website on 5 June 2017. Demand side management has been tricky to do in the past not because of a move towards totalitarian control but because of an engineering intervention (microprocessors and transmitters). Time-of-use measurement was once hard to do, technically, but it is now easy and cheap to implement.
Once time-of-use metering is in place, then it is possible, advisable and just to break up the tariff into peak, standard and off-peak times. For large users, like municipalities or mines, this has long been in place and widely accepted. However, the real (marginal cost) of meeting the peak is not fully captured in peak-hour pricing (±3 hours/day). The tariffs for standard periods and off-peak periods which cannot use all available capacity carry some of the costs (in the form of idle capacity) of the peak so there is a cross-subsidisation by the standard and off-peak periods.
If someone was able, via demand side management, to shift load away from the peak (or even supply load during that time) then, in the absence of having tariffs representative of the true cost of meeting the peak, that person would be subsidising others who do not shift load (especially if there is not enough incentive to do so). This is not efficient nor is it just.
Let’s use an analogous argument. The cheapest milk, bread, etc., is to be found at supermarkets which are open for business during the day time. If, one late evening, I forget to buy milk and need it in the morning, I have to get into a car and drive to the 24-hour convenience store at a petrol station and buy the milk there for, say, 50% more. I can’t complain that I am being nudged by a totalitarian system to buy milk from the supermarket in the day. If a fast-food delivery service can deliver the milk for twice the supermarket price and I don’t have to drive, I celebrate what capitalism can do and don’t complain – I just make a mental note to buy sufficient milk at the supermarket next time.
Dirk de Vos
re: Are Eskom’s claims of “hardship” imposed by IPPs valid?
I was rather amazed at the article by SAIPPA’s Thomas Garner in which he attacked Eskom and also liberally handed out offensive insults. (“Are Eskom‘s claims of ‘hardship’ imposed by IPP’s valid?” Energize July 2017).
As a nuclear physicist I was personally offended. Inter alia, Garner said: “The nuclear deal is likely to lead to the massive enrichment of a few individuals, connected politicians and business people… [who] want the nuclear deal to go ahead, not because it offers clean electricity, and not because it will create jobs, but because these individuals will use it as way of enriching themselves.”
How does Garner know what a nuclear deal is “likely to lead to” in terms of corruption? It is not general business ethics to insult and smear an entire category of professional person, as Garner does. South African nuclear professionals have shown that nuclear power is viable, sensible and economically a very wise choice.
We all work for the social and economic benefit of South Africa and all our people. We also work with total professional integrity. We make sound professional recommendations to government on the best nuclear path to follow. It is professional nuclear technology teams, as well as professional financial and economics teams, which together make recommendations as to reactor type, fuel type, fuel systems, spent fuel repository and all other nuclear power related issues.
The procurement and operation of all nuclear power systems follows a series of well-defined selection and contractual processes.
We don’t appreciate veiled threats and smears to our integrity.
Dr. Kelvin Kemm
Source: EE plublishers