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

Mindy Sparks
March 13, 2018

Government's long-awaited signing of agreements with 27 renewable energy independent power producer projects (IPPs) on Tuesday was blocked by an interdict that the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and Transform RSA obtained in the high court in Pretoria on Monday night.

"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".

Media had reported that an interdict would prevent the signing ceremony from going ahead.

"The court found that our application meets the standard for urgency and therefore granted us the interdict". They were attempting to impose this deal on us without consultation, but we stopped them!

The protesting trade union believes that the inking of the contracts "would be detrimental for the working class of Mpumalanga and the country as a whole". "This is likely to lead to the closure of the coal-fired power plants and the impact will be that at least 30,000 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 said. The combination of all these factors will have dire consequences for the working class and the poor. Extracting fossil fuels from underground is a "resource play".

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.

However, Numsa and Transform RSA successfully launched a late night high court bid on Monday to urgently interdict Eskom from signing the 27 (IPP) contracts. The utility favored a nuclear-build program at the time and maintained a standoff on what was once a successful program by the Department of Energy to diversify South Africa's power mix and bring in billions in foreign investment. The country's power mix has always been dominated by coal.

In his own statement, Radebe pointed out that the green IPP projects will enable ZAR 56 billion (USD 3.14bn/EUR 2.54bn) of new investment in the economy over the next two to three years, and will have a significant contribution to job creation across the energy value chain.

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.

"The government of South Africa reconfirms its commitment to a solid public-private partnership as we pursue our energy transition objectives of the future as well as a better life for all", he said.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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