The North Gauteng High Court has reserved judgment on an urgent application by Lobby group Transform SA and National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) to stop Energy Minister Jeff Radebe from signing 27 renewable energy projects for Eskom.
The two parties argued that power from Independent Power Producers (IPPs) is expensive and will sink Eskom’s finances and negatively affect the country’s economy. They also raised concerns of job losses in the coal industry.
Numsa and Transform SA are on a legal bid to stop governments’ IPPs rollout. They say while they are not against renewable energy, they want proper consultation and assurance of no job losses for the coal industry.
“We got it from Eskom that if they introduce these renewables, they’ve done calculations on power station by power station on how many jobs will be lost. When we did this study last year it was found that 30 to 40 000 jobs are likely to be lost and there seem to be no interest about that,” says Numsa Secretary Irvin Jim.
Transform SA’s Adil Chabeleng says; “The South African population is being taken for a ride. Our fiscus is being looted because these companies, IPPs are only producing 5% power and taking 30% of Eskom’s profits.”
Eskom admitted in court that it was caught in a cross fire. It had concerns over the cost of IPP’s but it must comply if the energy ministry signs IPP deals.
“The difficulty in this matter is that it is said that Eskom complained about the costs and that it would be more expensive. That is correct, that’s part of their compliance, they would communicate with the minister, with other bodies involved to say can we change this, what about that, it’s part of the process, “says Eskom representative Advocate Barry Roux.
Representative of Energy Minister Advocate William Mokhari says; “This is an application which sought to be made out in only three pages and your lordship will not find any single submission on why this court at this stage should interdict an executive from performing executive duties.”
Government has argued that the IPP’s rollout will create over 60 000 jobs. Judgment on the matter will be delivered on Thursday.
Numsa says just as former President Jacob Zuma’s nuclear power ambitions were halted, they will also fight President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration in what the union calls a reckless implementation of renewable energy.
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