R56bn renewable energy deal postponed as parties head to court

2018-03-13 14:35

The R56-billion renewable energy deal has been postponed until March 27 when the matter goes to court.

Energy Mnister Jeff Radebe – who last week announced that the deal would see an expected 61 600 jobs being created as well as South Africa being “restored back to its status of being the fastest-growing solar and wind energy market in the world” – announced today the deal wouldn’t be signed until the matter has been “disposed of” in court.

Early this morning, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and civil society group Transform RSA announced that they had been granted an urgent interdict to prevent Eskom from concluding the R56 billion deal with Independent Power Producers by the North Gauteng High Court in Tshwane last night.

Radebe however dismissed the interdict claim by Numsa saying, “after arguments were concluded, the court refused to grant an interim interdict against Eskom or the minister but instead postponed the matter to March 27”.

The responding parties were instructed to file their answering papers by March 20 and the applicants’ parties to file their replying papers by March 22.

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.

“They were attempting to impose this deal on us without consultation, but we stopped them,” said Hlubi-Majola.

She disputed Radebe’s job-creation numbers, and said that the deal would only sustain the employment numbers claimed by the minister only in the construction phase of these renewable power stations.

“These renewable energy stations will eventually lead to the closure of five coal-fired power stations, which will in turn lead to the loss of over 30 000 jobs,” said Hlubi-Majola.

“There is no evidence at this point that these independent renewable energy providers will be able to retain the same number of workers currently employed in the coal fired power stations. The reality is that we are living in a country currently experiencing 36% unemployment rate and sitting at over 50% poverty rate, such job losses will have a dire effect on economies where these coal stations are located,” added Hlubi-Majola.

Radebe said that the postponement was agreed to “in the spirit of constitutionalism” but he maintained that the coal-powered energy sector was a diminishing source of power and that the new renewable power providers were a convenient means of upskilling workers currently in the coal powered sector.

“About 25% 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,” he said.

Juniour Khumalo
City Press
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May 19 2019