Jeff Radebe defends 'clean energy' deals despite objections

13 March 2018 - 12:29
By Timeslive
Minister of Energy Jeff Radebe.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali Minister of Energy Jeff Radebe.

Minister of Energy Jeff Radebe on Tuesday defended government's Independent Power Producer programmes despite a late night court hearing.

Radebe had today planned to sign power purchase agreements and implementation agreements with 27 renewable energy Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) said earlier on Tuesday that together with Transform RSA‚ it had been granted an interim interdict at the North Gauteng High Court on Monday night to prevent Eskom from concluding the IPP projects‚ including the power purchase agreements.

Radebe complained about "a mere one hour notice to the Minister and Eskom as respondents" in the application brought to court.

The matter was argued until after 11pm.

Radebe disputed the outcome‚ saying in a statement: "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 ...

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In the absence of an interdict‚ and with the court having expressly informed the parties at 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 whilst there is no interdict granted‚ the signing will however be postponed until the 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."

Radebe said the plan was intended to bring about cost-efficient clean energy.

"This initiative will enable R56 billion of new investment in the economy over the next 2 to 3 years‚ which will immediately contribute to growth in the economy. . .

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

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

Numsa said it joined the court application with Transform RSA in order to protect the livelihoods of thousands of workers and their families.

“Numsa believes that the signing of these contracts would be detrimental for the working class of Mpumalanga and the country as a whole. The signing of the IPP means that Eskom will require less coal-fired electricity. This is likely to lead to the closure of the coal fired power plants and the impact will be that at least 30 thousand working class families will suffer because of job losses‚” the union said.

“The IPP roll-out will raise the cost of electricity dramatically‚ because IPP’s cost much more than coal-fired electricity.”

Numsa added it is a recognized trade union at Eskom‚ and it wanted the opportunity to make submissions to the energy regulator Nersa‚ Eskom and the energy minister on the IPP contracts and the implications for its members.

“Eskom was planning to sign these agreements despite the fact that a previous application‚ by the Coal Transporters Forum to interdict them from signing is still pending at the North Gauteng High Court. They were attempting to impose this deal on us without consultation‚ but we stopped them!‚” said Numsa.

The matter has been set down for March 27 at the North Gauteng High Court. “We are confident that the court will recognize that our rights have been violated and will look favourably on our application‚” said Numsa.