Numsa's interdict a bid to sabotage renewable energy, says Greepeace Africa

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The Unions argue that Eskom now has sufficient generation capacity and that additional renewables would only force coal plants offline, with the loss of jobs.

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.

Eskom caused the delay by resisting the signing, but confirmed that it was now prepared to sign the power purchase agreements that would bind it to buy renewable energy from the independent producers for 20 years. In his response, Radebe said nothing prevented Eskom and IPPs from signing the agreements.

"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".

The department insisted it had "voluntarily" postponed the finalisation of the contracts with the IPPs "in the spirit of constitutionalism and rule of law". As a result, the signing will proceed on a date to be announced immediately after the 27th of March 2018. "This will also ensure opportunities for economic transformation and access to mainstream economy", the statement continued.

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South Africa's new energy minister Jeff Radebe said last week that "milestone" signing would "bring much needed policy and regulatory certainty and maintain South Africa's position as an energy investment destination of choice".

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

Responding to the interdict, renewable energy industry body, the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) says today was meant to mark the reawakening of South Africa's Renewable Energy Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), first initiated in 2011.

At a media briefing announcing the signing ceremony last week, Radebe said South Africa had reached a milestone following a protracted period of uncertainty.

The projects are valued at about R58 billion and it is anticipated they will create more than 13 000 jobs and add 2 305MW to SA's energy mix.