Job-creating renewables deal stalled by Numsa, Zuma-backer 'Transform RSA'

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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 Renewable Energy Programme has empowered South Africans to own on average 48 percent of the equity in all of the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) projects".

Both Radebe and Eskom opposed the application, which was argued until after 11pm.

In terms of the interdict, Radebe now has to hold off on signing the IPP agreements until the court hearing on March 27.

The signing of the contracts with 27 new power producers was due to take place on Tuesday.

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.

"The signing of the IPP means Eskom will require less coal-fired electricity".

A decision is now postponed until 27 March.

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The department insisted it had "voluntarily" postponed the finalisation of the contracts with the IPPs "in the spirit of constitutionalism and rule of law".

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

The trade union says the court found the application meets the standard for urgency and therefore granted the applicants the interdict.

Yelland, the investigative editor of EE Publishers, on Tuesday described the court bid as a "delay tactic", saying the move towards renewable energy is a global trend which would not leave South Africa behind.

"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".

Khambule said contrary to Numsa's argument that renewable energy would lead to job losses in the energy sector, renewable energy is actually creating new job opportunities. "Northern Cape will have 59% of the jobs created, followed by Eastern Cape with 15% and North West 13% of jobs created".

"Let's be reminded that REIPPPP was born out of government's policy-embedded vision for an expansion of South Africa's energy mix to include independent power with an associated range of clear developmental imperatives". At the time, he said the signing of the agreements would be re-confirming government's commitment not only to renewable energy, but also to a solid partnership with the private sector in pursuing government's energy transition objectives for the future.

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