A new date for the signing of 27 renewable energy projects will be announced following a court decision later this month, Energy Minister Jeff Radebe said on Tuesday.
The Minister’s comments follow a decision by the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) and non-governmental organisation Transform RSA’s decision to approach the High Court in Pretoria. The urgent court application brought by the two organisations on Monday night were to interdict and restrain Eskom from concluding the 27 renewable energy projects, which include power purchase agreements – pending the finalisation of the case.
Both Minister Radebe and Eskom opposed the application, which was argued until after 11pm.
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.
Minister Radebe was due to hold a signing ceremony at the Depart of Energy’s Independent Power Producers (IPPs) office in Centurion, Tshwane, on Tuesday morning. The signing ceremony was meant to be for Bid Window 3.5 and Bid Window 4 of the department’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) Programme.
Media had reported that an interdict would prevent the signing ceremony from going ahead. In his response, Minister Radebe said nothing prevented Eskom and IPPs from signing the agreements.
“In the absence of an interdict, and with the court having expressly informed the parties in court that it would not grant such an order, nothing prevented Eskom and IPPs from signing the agreements, as scheduled by me for Tuesday, 13 March 2018.
“However, counsel for the Minister informed the court that while there is no interdict granted, the signing will, however, be postponed until 27 March 2018 when the matter is finally disposed of in court.
“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 reports in the media that an interdict was granted are therefore not true,” Minister Radebe said.
He added that the department will continue to defend the right of consumers to have access to cost efficient clean energy that will bring much needed investment in South Africa, as well as jobs and small business entrepreneurial opportunities in rural communities.
“This will also ensure opportunities for economic transformation and access to the mainstream economy.”
Deals important for economy
Minister Radebe said the signing of the 27 projects will enable R56 billion of new investment in the economy over the next two to three years. 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.
“This programme, as well as the proposed future initiatives, will have a significant contribution in job creation across the energy value chain, including the reestablishment of industrial development and support to the technical training of young people to be absorbed in the labour market.”
Minister Radebe said the usage of different types of energy supply, which includes renewable forms of power generation, is in line with the energy policy.
“In a nutshell, these projects will provide 61 600 full-time jobs, of which 95% is for South African citizens, mostly during plant construction specifically with a focus on youth employment. Northern Cape will have 59% of the jobs created, followed by Eastern Cape with 15% and North West 13% of jobs created.”
At a media briefing announcing the signing ceremony last week, Minister Radebe said South Africa had reached a milestone following a protracted period of uncertainty. At the time, he said the signing of the agreements would be re-confirming government’s commitment not only to renewable energy, but also to a solid partnership with the private sector in pursuing government’s energy transition objectives for the future.
“The government of South Africa reconfirms its commitment to a solid public-private partnership as we pursue our energy transition objectives of the future as well as a better life for all,” he said. – SAnews.gov.za