It is largely speculated that NUMSA’s and Transform SA’s arguments presented yesterday in the North Gauteng Court to interdict the new Energy Minister, Mr Jeff Radebe from signing 27 renewable energy contracts, will fail.
The overarching consequences presented by Advocate Nazeer Cassim, for Numsa, would be wide scale job losses in the coal sector if the 27 renewable energy projects went ahead. He argued that that signing the contracts will be tantamount to economic looting, a disaster and financial suicide for Eskom.
Cassim further argued that there is an existing application brought by the Coal Transporters Forum to have the IPP agreements nullified. He requested that the interdict stopping the signing of the agreements be granted pending the outcome of the Coal Transporters Forum’s application.
The truth is that Eskom has to retrofit, decommission or close old coal fired power stations to meet their carbon emission reduction commitments. Eskom is responsible for a whopping 44.5% of the national greenhouse gas emissions in South Africa.
The Paris Agreement, signed by Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa in April 2016, commits Eskom to new plant minimum emissions standards for coal-fired power stations from 2020. Eskom has no choice. They face stiff penalties and isolation from the international funding community if they do not comply.
Arguments for the IPP’s, Eskom, NERSA and the DOE raised the point that due diligence has been followed right through the value chain and that the closure of some of the coal fired power stations have nothing to do with the 27 pending renewable energy projects. They further argued that NUMSA’s application is no more an abuse of the courts time and a delaying tactic.
The country’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Program (REIPP), once one of the most successful renewable energy programs in the world, has been on hold for past 2 ½ years. The signing of the outstanding 27 projects is expected to pave the way for R56.8bn in infrastructure investment to flow into the country. More than 60000 jobs will be created during the two year construction period.
Judge Fourie will deliver his verdict on Thursday 29th March 2018.
Author: Bryan Groenendaal