1Zuma’s assertion that “Eskom will sign the outstanding power purchase agreements for renewable energy in line with the procured rounds” was interpreted by the renewables industry as signalling executive intervention in the impasse that had halted 37 renewable projects worth R58 billion in total.
The projects were chosen as preferred bidders in the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, but from July 2016 Eskom refused to sign their power purchase agreements.
“One can only gather that Eskom has been waiting for instruction from a higher level of government and that this has now happened,” said Brenda Martin, chairperson of the SA Renewable Energy Council.
This week, Eskom started contacting the project developers to extend their so-called budget quotes, which set project fees and cost “hundreds of millions” to prepare, said Martin.
The majority of the quotes had expired by late last year, she added.
Eskom had now assured the developers that the quotes were still valid.
Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe confirmed that the budget quotes were being extended, but denied that the power utility’s position had shifted.
The renewable projects would still be contracted “at a pace and scale we can afford”, he said, adding: “We will have to idle coal capacity as we add renewables.”
Eskom’s acting CEO, Matshela Koko, said he did not want to contract new renewable power until it was needed – in about 2021 – to save costs.
The bidding happened when there was a shortage of power. Now there is a surplus, thanks to falling demand and units at the new coal stations of Kusile and Medupi having been completed.
DRAFT PROPERTY PRACTITIONERS BILL
2Zuma made the point in his state of the nation address that less than 5% of the property sector was owned or managed by black people, particularly Africans.
“A draft Property Practitioners’ Bill will be published by the department of human settlements for public comment,” he added.
Ndivhuwo Mabaya, spokesperson for Department of Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, said the draft bill had been completed and would go to Cabinet for approval before being released for public comment, which was likely to happen before June.
He added that a key section of the bill was dedicated to the transformation of the property sector.
The bill would also prioritise black business and black property agents when it came to government property deals, Mabaya said.
Once enacted, this bill would replace the Estate Agency Affairs Act.
The new bill would govern estate agents, conveyancers and developers of property, Mabaya said.
The bill aimed to convert the Estate Agency Affairs Board into the Property Practitioners’ Regulatory Authority (PPRA) and improve the governance of estate agents – who would be known as property practitioners – by the PPRA, said Mabaya.
The new bill would also regulate home inspectors, who would be called Property Assessment Practitioners. It would regulate these practitioners’ activities as well as training standards, he added.
The new bill would remove all jurisdiction of consumer protection relating to property transactions from the Consumer Protection Act and bring it under the PPRA, said Mabaya.