In December 2016 the Department of Energy published the New Energy Efficiency Strategy (NEES) Gazette and opened it to public comment for 30 days. The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) is now calling for an extension to that comment period.

Outa has questioned the timing of the gazette’s publication and saying it appears as if the DOE is sneaking this particular gazette “past an unsuspecting public.”

Portfolio director for energy at Outa, Ted Blom called the DOE’s decision to publish the document and call for public comment in the heart of the festive season unacceptable.

“In our opinion, government could be accused of trying to sneak this document past the unsuspecting taxpayers, and that the haste of the gazette may be linked to the unexplained haste to pave the way to add nuclear to South Africa’s future energy mix,” said Blom in a statement.

The document in question seeks to outline energy consumption up to 2030 and according to Outa could see those not complying with energy consumption guidelines face punitive charges.

Outa is not altogether opposed to regulating energy consumption but it has said that the gazette is based on data gathered from 2000 to 2012 and ignores data from the last four years.

The organisation fears that in its current form the NEES would lead to higher fuel and electricity prices. “This, in turn, will lead to unnecessary increases in the cost of business and living in South Africa and will thus adversely affect South Africa’s business competitiveness,” said Blom.

The minister of energy has been contacted by Outa to request an extension to the comment period to give the public 90 days after the finalisation of the Integrated Resource Plan to comment on the gazette.