TO GET MOLEFE TO SIGN
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