Numsa’s court bid de­rails IPP agree­ments

The Star Late Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Siseko Njobeni

30 000 fam­i­lies will suf­fer, be­cause of job losses caused by IPPs, says Numsa

A LAST-MINUTE high court bid by Na­tional Union of Me­tal­work­ers of South Africa (Numsa) and Trans­form RSA de­railed yes­ter­day’s sign­ing of power pur­chase agree­ments with 27 in­de­pen­dent power pro­duc­ers (IPPs).

En­ergy Min­is­ter Jeff Radebe said the North Gaut­eng High Court did not in­ter­dict Eskom from con­clud­ing the power pur­chase agree­ments. “How­ever, coun­sel for the min­is­ter, in­formed the court that while there is no in­ter­dict granted, the sign­ing will, how­ever, be post­poned un­til March 27, when the mat­ter is fi­nally dis­posed of in court,” said Radebe.

He said the depart­ment would de­fend the right of con­sumers in South Africa to have ac­cess to cost-ef­fi­cient clean en­ergy that brings much­needed in­vest­ment and jobs to South Africa.

Brenda Martin, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of the South African Wind En­ergy As­so­ci­a­tion, said yes­ter­day: “The de­layed in­vest­ment of more than R59 bil­lion, the cre­ation of more than 13 000 con­struc­tion jobs and a fur­ther 2 000 op­er­a­tions jobs was meant to be un­locked to­day.”

Numsa said yes­ter­day that the sign­ing of the con­tracts would be detri­men­tal for the work­ing class.

“The sign­ing of the IPP means Eskom will re­quire less coal-fired elec­tric­ity. This is likely to lead to the clo­sure of the coal-fired power plants and the im­pact will be that at least 30 000 work­ing-class fam­i­lies will suf­fer be­cause of job losses,” Numsa said.

The IPP roll-out would raise the cost of elec­tric­ity dra­mat­i­cally, be­cause IPPs cost much more than coal-fired elec­tric­ity.

“Elec­tric­ity prices will rocket be­cause of the IPP roll­out. While at the same time that VAT and the fuel price are go­ing up, work­ers are be­ing paid slave wages of R20 an hour and less,” Numsa said.

Travis Hough, Busi­ness Unit Leader, En­ergy & En­vi­ron­ment at Frost & Sul­li­van Africa, said yes­ter­day that ef­forts to block re­new­able en­ergy IPPs was un­likely to suc­ceed. He said Numsa’s ar­gu­ment of in­creas­ing en­ergy prices was mis­placed.

“So­lar and wind power costs have been rapidly de­clin­ing and are now al­most com­pa­ra­ble to that of base load coal and nu­clear. The to­tal amount of en­ergy that will be added to the grid through the new (power pur­chase agree­ments) is largely in­signif­i­cant in com­par­i­son to the en­tire coal fleet be­ing op­er­ated by Eskom,” said Hough.

The mat­ter is set for a full hear­ing on March 27 in the North Gaut­eng High Court.

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