Renewable energy deals in jeopardy as union objects

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Eskom argued previously that renewable energy is more expensive than the energy it generates from its own coal-fired power stations and tried to impose a cap on the tariffs previously negotiated between the department of energy and the independents.

Numsa's acting spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola explained that Numsa had taken the step of applying for an urgent interdict against the ministry of energy, Eskom, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa and the independent renewable energy providers because these stakeholders were planning to sign these agreements despite the fact that a previous application, by the Coal Transporters Forum to interdict them from signing, was still pending at the North Gauteng High Court.

Eskom has been prevented from concluding the outstanding renewable energy independent power producer contracts.

"The signing of the IPP means Eskom will require less coal-fired electricity".

The department said in a media statement on Tuesday that it made a decision to voluntarily postpone the signing "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 saga surrounding the renewables-tied PPAs was supposed to end with their signing today, but grid operator Eskom will not be able to ink the contracts before a full hearing is held on March 27, 2018. "The reports in the media that an interdict was granted are therefore not true", said Radebe.

Radebe said the signing of the 27 projects will enable ZAR56 billion of new investment in the economy over the next two to three years.

"The Department of Energy will continue to vigorously defend the right of consumers in our country to have access to cost-efficient clean energy that bring much-needed investment in South Africa as well as jobs (especially for women and the youth) and small business entrepreneurial opportunities in our rural communities".

This will contribute to growth in the economy supporting the already positive achievement of 3.1% Gross Domestic Product growth in the fourth quarter of 2017. "Northern Cape will have 59 percent of the jobs created, followed by Eastern Cape with 15 percent and North West 13 percent of jobs created", Radebe said in a statement on Tuesday.

"This is good news for several reasons", says Dr Dom Wills, CEO of solar project developer, SOLA Future Energy.

But this plan was stopped by trade union Numsa and lobby group Transform South Africa when they were granted a late-night interdict by the High Court to halt the proceedings.

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