Concerns raised over renewable energy
THE portfolio committee on energy has called on Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown and her counterparts in the Department of Energy to be clear on their plans for renewable energy.
There were concerns that the government has not provided clear answers on its plan for renewable energy to be supplied by independent power producers (IPPs).
The two departments were seen to be pushing more for nuclear energy while moving slowly on renewable energy, which was part of the energy mix the government has mooted in the wake of load shedding in past years.
Chairperson of the portfolio committee on energy Fikile Majola said the departments of energy and public enterprises needed to come to a decision on the IPPs.
Majola said that when they report back to the committee in the next few weeks, they must be clear where they stand.
“Can a decision be made so that we know where we stand? Can you make a considered decision and announce it?” he said.
Majola said there cannot be uncertainty in an environment where people want to invest and workers want to keep their jobs.
Brown assured Parliament that Eskom would sign the fourth window with independent power producers on renewable energy projects worth billions of rand.
This was the same assurance given by Deputy Energy Minister Thembi Majola to MPs yesterday following concerns by IPPs on the future of the projects.
Eskom and IPPs had been at loggerheads, with the industry concerned about uncertainty created by the power utility on its future.
Opposition parties also warned that investors remained concerned about Eskom’s stance on the IPPs.
The government has facilitated renewable energy projects to the value of R200 billion in the last few years.
Brown told MPs there were processes being finalised by Eskom and the Department of Energy, including a review of the black industrialists programme, before signing new agreements.
She said that after all these processes, they would sign into IPP projects.
Majola concurred with Brown there was no need to panic as they would sign the agreements with the IPPs.
“The main thing is to conclude all these things before there is a signing,” she said.
Majola raised the question of affordability.
Opposition MPs were not convinced and believed the government was delaying the signing of the IPPs.
The DA’s Gordon MacKay said investors were edgy due to uncertainty in the industry.
“I am surprised by the presentation. There is uncertainty in the sector and people will lose their jobs,” said MacKay.
He said Eskom could not blame IPPs for its poor balance sheet.
IFP MP Jan Esterhuizen disagreed with Brown on the price of renewables, arguing they were the cheapest form of energy for the country.
Marshall Dlamini of the EFF said the government must not pay more than it can afford.
MAKING A POINT: Public Enterprises Minister, Lynne Brown told MPs processes were being finalised by Eskom and the Department of Energy, including a review of the black industrialists programme, before agreements can be signed.