Energy Minister Jeff Radebe says a new date for the signing of 27 renewable energy projects will be announced following a court decision later this month.
This comes after 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 on Monday night seeking an urgent court application to block 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.
No interdict granted
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 for bid Window 3.5 and Bid Window 4 of the Department of Energy’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) Programme at the department’s Independent Power Producers (IPPs) office in Centurion, Tshwane, on Tuesday morning.
Nothing prevented Eskom from signing the deals
In response to media reports that an interdict would prevent the signing ceremony from going ahead 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.”
Radebe noted that he took the decision to postpone the signing until after the matter was dealt with in court voluntarily 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,” the minister explained.
No job losses
Meanwhile the minister maintains that the signing of the 27 projects will contribute significantly to job creation across the value chain including the reestablishment of industrial development and support to the technical training of young people to be absorbed in the labour market.
This is a stark contrast to NUMSA’s fears that the signing would lead to significant job losses as Eskom would close several coal-fired power plants.