Last-minute court bid blocks IPP signing

Update at 12:05. The department of energy has said in a statement that the High Court in Pretoria did not on Monday night grant an interdict blocking the signing of the IPP agreements.

The department said it would not, however, be concluding the contracts on Tuesday as planned as it had voluntarily decided to postpone signing the contracts "in the spirit of constitutionalism and the rule of law" until after a return court date on March 27. 

It maintains the contracts will be signed "on a date to be announced immediately after the 27th of March". 


Cape Town - The signing of 27 independent power producer contracts on Tuesday has been put on hold, after the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and Transform RSA approached the High Court in Pretoria late on Monday evening.  

In a statement on Tuesday morning, Numsa said that it had received an interdict to prevent the department of energy and power utility Eskom from concluding the outstanding renewable energy power purchase agreements.

The department of energy, however, said later on Tuesday that no interdict had been granted, and it had instead voluntarily decided to postpone signing the contracts "in the spirit of constitutionalism and the rule of law".

"Numsa believes that the signing of these contracts would be detrimental for the working class of Mpumalanga and the country as a whole. The signing of the IPP means that Eskom will require less coal-fired electricity," the union said in a statement.

"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."

The union also claimed that the IPP roll-out would raise the cost of electricity dramatically.

Eskom referred Fin24 on Tuesday morning to the department of energy for comment. The department, in a media statement, 

New Energy Minister Jeff Radebe was set to sign the 27 independent renewable energy contracts, including power purchase agreements, in Centurion on Tuesday morning.

"We have reached this milestone following a long period of uncertainty but with this [upcoming] signing we are reconfirming government’s commitment not only to renewable energy, but also to a solid partnership with the private sector as we pursue our energy transition objectives in the future," he said in a recent speech.

The matter will be heard in the North Gauteng High Court on March 27.

* Update at 12:05 on Tuesday 13 March: This article was updated to reflect the fact that, according to the department of energy, no interdict had been granted but the department had rather voluntarily agreed to postpone the signing. The article's headline was charged to "last-minute court bid blocks IPP signing" from "last-minute court interdict blocks IPP signing" to display this fact.

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