CityPress - - Business - STEVE KRETZMANN busi­ness@city­

Af­ter 18 months of de­lays, the pres­i­dency has tasked two min­is­ters to con­vince Eskom CEO Brian Molefe to sign off on the much-awaited power pur­chase agree­ments (PPAs) with in­de­pen­dent power pro­duc­ers (IPPs), spe­cial en­ergy ad­viser to the pres­i­dent, Si­las Zimu, said this week. The IPPs are pre­ferred bid­ders se­lected un­der the coun­try’s Re­new­able En­ergy In­de­pen­dent Power Pro­ducer Pro­cure­ment Pro­gramme (REIPPPP), which has al­ready seen R194 bil­lion worth of in­vest­ment, with that fig­ure ex­pected to rise above R255 bil­lion upon fi­nan­cial close of the projects in the cur­rent bid win­dows 4 and 4.5.

Speak­ing at the Wind­aba wind and en­ergy con­fer­ence in Cape Town, Zimu said if it were up to him, these PPAs would be signed “to­mor­row”, but Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma “has ap­pointed [Wa­ter and En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Edna] Molewa and [Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Min­is­ter Naledi] Pan­dor to per­suade Eskom to sign these things”.

His an­nounce­ment of­fers hope for sta­bil­ity in the re­new­able en­ergy sec­tor af­ter it emerged in July that Molefe had stated in a let­ter to En­ergy Min­is­ter Tina Joe­mat-Pet­ters­son that Eskom was un­will­ing to sign fur­ther PPAs beyond those se­lected un­der the REIPPPP’s bid win­dow 4.5.

He also pub­licly an­nounced in May that the sta­te­owned power util­ity would not sign any fur­ther PPAs with­out a govern­ment review of the process, as re­new­able en­ergy had failed to pro­vide en­ergy when Eskom needed it most.

How­ever, Eskom’s stance was re­jected by Cab­i­net, which stated govern­ment, and not the util­ity, de­cided on pol­icy.

In­creas­ing frus­tra­tion in the re­new­able en­ergy sec­tor led to the SA Wind En­ergy As­so­ci­a­tion (Sawea) last month lodg­ing an of­fi­cial com­plaint against Eskom with the Na­tional En­ergy Reg­u­la­tor of SA.

At the end of the Wind­aba con­fer­ence, Sawea chair­per­son Mark Pick­er­ing stated that the SA Re­new­able En­ergy Coun­cil was se­cur­ing le­gal opin­ion re­gard­ing Eskom’s re­fusal to sign the PPAs, af­ter hav­ing “pre­vi­ously signed ex­actly the same agree­ments with 64 IPPs aris­ing from the first three rounds of what has now be­come a rout­ing process”.

“We have ev­ery con­fi­dence in the sup­port of govern­ment, and urge Eskom to re­con­sider its po­si­tion and com­ply with govern­ment’s pol­icy and the law of the land,” stated Pick­er­ing.

Zimu said af­ter leav­ing a meet­ing last Fri­day that he was confident Molefe would now sign the PPAs.

“The only rea­son I did not say he would, was be­cause that job had been given to the min­is­ters,” he an­nounced in a break­away ses­sion at Wind­aba.

Speak­ing to a small group of in­dus­try play­ers af­ter his pre­sen­ta­tion, he said Molewa and Pan­dor were

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