Minister insists renewable energy will boost jobs, transformation

"The usage of different types of energy supply‚ which includes renewable forms of power generation‚ is in line with the energy policy".

After a delay of about two years, newly appointed energy minister Jeff Radebe last week announced that government and Eskom will sign 27 of the agreements pertaining to bid rounds 3.5 and 4 of the department of energy's acclaimed Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme on Tuesday morning.

The government's long-awaited signing of agreements with 27 independent renewable energy producers (IPP projects) was blocked yesterday.

After arguments were concluded, the court refused to grant an interim interdict against Eskom or the Minister but instead postponed the matter to 27 March 2018, with the responding parties to file their answering papers by 20 March 2018 and the applicants' parties to file their replying papers by 22 March 2018. In his response, Radebe said nothing prevented Eskom and IPPs from signing the agreements.

The ruling in the matter was delivered verbally on Monday night after Numsa and Transform RSA approached the court on an urgent basis to stop the signing from going ahead on Tuesday as planned.

"This undertaking was made voluntarily on behalf of the Minister in the spirit of constitutionalism and the rule of law". As a result, the signing will proceed on a date to be announced immediately after the 27th of March 2018.

The trade union says the court found the application meets the standard for urgency and therefore granted the applicants the interdict. "About 25 percent of the project equity is owned by foreign investors acting as a catalyst by providing investment and skills transfer to the establishment of the new green economy while enhancing opportunities for economic transformation".

"These programmes will contribute towards competitive market pricing of electricity‚ both for the household consumer as well as for industrial usage".

The order is another setback for energy developers including Denham Capital-backed BioTherm Energy and ACWA Power International that have been waiting for deals to be signed since 2016.

The projects are valued at about R58 billion and it is anticipated they will create more than 13 000 jobs and add 2 305MW to SA's energy mix.

NUMSA is not only trying to prevent the inevitable, but they are also trying to keep South Africa in bondage to expensive and polluting means of generating power.

  • Joey Payne