NUMSA applies for interdict to block Eskom from signing IPP contracts

Erika Holt
March 15, 2018

Eskom is to close several coal-fired power stations that will result in thousands of job losses, but this was in no way linked to the utility signing agreements to buy electricity from independent power producers, the Department of Energy has said.

Dr Dom Wills, the CEO of solar project developer SOLA Future Energy, said in a statement on Tuesday that renewable energy should be seen as an opening for South African business.

The union alleges that jobs will be lost and that consumers will have to pay more for electricity if the contracts are signed and renewable energy becomes part of the country's power grid. "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", the union said.

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, with the responding parties to file their answering papers by 20 March 2018 and the applicants' parties to file their replying papers by 22 March 2018.

Greenpeace Africa says it strongly condemns the urgent court interdict granted to Numsa to halt the signing of 27 Independent Power Provider (IPP) renewable energy contracts.

"The IPP roll out will raise the cost of electricity dramatically, because IPPs cost much more than coal-fired electricity. The combination of all these factors will have dire consequences for the working class and the poor".

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The developments have been received differently by the experts involved in the energy sector.

But Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi questioned how the department would create jobs, when there were threats of coal power stations shutting down.

NUMSA is not only trying to prevent the inevitable, but they are also trying to keep South Africa in bondage to expensive and polluting means of generating power.

She points out that as has been demonstrated through three competitive bidding rounds, the renewable energy industry is in a strong position to contribute to the South African economy through job creation, advancing the transformation agenda, improving rural livelihoods and attracting foreign direct investment. The country's power mix has always been dominated by coal.

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

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