The Department of Energy (DoE) has promised that the signing of the outstanding power purchase agreements with renewable energy independent power producers (IPP) is receiving “very urgent attention” and would happen soon.
DoE director-general Thabane Zulu on Tuesday told Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Energy that Energy Minister Jeff Radebe was being briefed about the programme this week.
“It’s my personal view that this matter will receive the attention it deserves. We have arranged a meeting with Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and Radebe to deal with this matter specifically. Even before Radebe comes to this committee again, the date and signing would have been dealt with,” he told MPs.
The DoE late on Wednesday announced that Radebe would, on Thursday, hold a media briefing to discuss the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).
Zulu said agreement was needed on how to ensure financial modelling was sustainable for the programme.
“It’s not just getting people into one room to sign this. It’s a comprehensive programme, with policy dynamics. It has contributed to different views, especially in relation to the financial model,” he told MPs.
“Once Cabinet concerns are taken care of, the process will kick into gear.”
The department said bid windows 3.5 and 4 were currently being finalised with the Eskom board.
Head of the IPP Office, Karen Breytenbach, said the delays had “hit us extremely hard”.
“National Treasury told the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) to allow us to continue even if we do not have money. We haven’t hit that point, but the DBSA had offered to pay for our consultants, as well as our operational costs, because they believe the capacity that sits in the IPP Office shouldn't be disappearing.”
She said the office had built up a core competency of young black professionals.
“We have appointed young, black professionals . . .and they are the most jittery. They have young families . . . They can’t stay not knowing what’s happening.”
She said the on again, off again process must come to an end.
“We had the solar water heater programme. Then we didn't; then we got it again. Everything stopped for nine months, and now we are scrambling again.
“We are not thinking about things in terms of our economy, the youth and our people. You cannot run an economy when you stop every time something is happening. This stop-start thing isn’t working. Allow us to continue to do what we have to do,” she urged.
The DoE said the 27 projects to be signed under REIPPPP bid windows 3.5 and 4 are expected to create 58 419 full-time equivalent jobs for South African citizens, mostly during the construction period and mostly for the youth.
“The 62 signed IPPs under the REIPPPP that have completed construction had planned to deliver 17 528 jobs during the construction phase, but achieved 27 775 new jobs. This is 58% more jobs than committed,” the department said.