NUMSA stops Eskom from signing renewable energy deals

Unrenewable Investment       South Africa's clean energy project asset financing falls              Source BNEF

Energy Minister Jeff Radebe was originally due to sign the contracts with independent power producers on Tuesday.

Cape Town - The Department of Energy has said that no interdict was granted stopping it from signing 27 independent power producer (IPP) contracts with private sector companies on Tuesday.

Eskom referred Fin24 on Tuesday morning to the department of energy for comment.

The Ramaphosa government however announced that it will proceed with the signing as well as the other REIPPP projects and the Eskom-cap would not apply.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) claimed concluding PPAs for the 27 mainly wind and solar projects would push up electricity prices and reduce demand for coal power, threatening 30,000 jobs in the fossil generation industry, as it secured a last-minute injunction preventing the signing at South Africa's High Court.

"The court found that our application meets the standard for urgency and therefore granted us the interdict".

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Court action by a South African trade union has blocked the signing of 2.2GW of renewables contracts, dashing hopes that today would mark the end of a years-long saga that has battered confidence in the country's clean energy programme. "The energy minister was forced to give an undertaking in court that he would not sign the IPP agreements on Tuesday until the matter has been given a full hearing by the High Court".

This is a victory for NUMSA. While the union says the projects threaten jobs and coal-fired plants, the government argues that renewable energy will stimulate economic growth and diversify South Africa's power mix.

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

"Electricity prices will skyrocket because of the IPP roll-out; while at the same time that Value-Added Tax and the fuel price are going up, workers are being paid slave wages of R20 per hour and less".

Eskom previously refused to sign the agreements with energy developers including Denham Capital-backed BioTherm Energy and ACWA Power International, saying they were expensive and that power from the projects wouldn't always be available. "They were attempting to impose this deal on us without consultation‚ but we stopped them‚" said Numsa.

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