Con­cerns raised over re­new­able en­ergy

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI

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.

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