Accepted Paper:

Energy regulators as mediators or managers? A case study in South Africa  


David Walwyn (University of Pretoria)

Paper short abstract:

Energy regulators can play an essential role within national energy systems. In South Africa, the national regulator has implemented consultative processes to solicit public debate on pricing and other issues. However this role can be highly conflicted, as will be debated in the paper.

Paper long abstract:

Energy planning in South Africa is guided by the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which is developed by Government through a consultative process. Implementation of the plan is managed by the Department of Energy and the National Energy Regulator, where the latter provides operating licenses for energy producers within its overall mandate. In this paper, the overall architecture of energy planning and management will be presented, followed by a critique of the specific role of the regulator, which seeks to balance the direct interests government and the national utility company against the broader needs of other actors within the national energy system, including those of the renewable independent power producers. Based on interviews with representatives from the public and private sectors, the paper will consider the role of the regulator in providing a forum for a more open process in energy decision making, and whether this role has been truly consultative. A case study approach will be followed, with the objective being to determine whether such bodies can be an effective part of a more legitimate arrangement for formalised decision making on energy projects. In particular, the interaction between the IRP and the regulator will be analysed in order to understand how power is distributed between the administrative and the legislative arms of Government.

Panel D02
Challenging formal arrangements and decision-making in the energy sector