Group of 30-somethings making steady progress in building black-owned IPP

Gqi Raoleka, Fumani Mthembi, Obakeng Moloabi (standing), Boipelo Moloabi and Thapelo Motlogeloa

Gqi Raoleka, Fumani Mthembi, Obakeng Moloabi (standing), Boipelo Moloabi and Thapelo Motlogeloa

18th July 2016

By: Terence Creamer

Creamer Media Editor


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The Pele Energy Group (PEG), which is owned and managed by a group of 30-something black professionals, is making strides in its stated objective of evolving from an energy investor into a fully-fledged independent power producer (IPP) and, ultimately, a private utility company.

Headquartered in Johannesburg, the company already holds equity in renewable-energy projects with a combined capacity of 884 MW, as well as a 40 MW natural gas project in Mozambique. It is also participating in bid-ready renewables and baseload projects with a combined capacity of over 1 000 MW.

However, the five founders – Gqi Raoleka, Obakeng Moloabi, Fumani Mthembi, Boipelo Moloabi and Thapelo Motlogeloa – are determined not to become another black-owned investment holding company. “We want to develop, own and fully operate our plants,” Raoleka avers, while acknowledging that PEG still has some way to go to achieve that aspiration.

The current strategy is multi-pronged: while consolidating its existing portfolio, it is also branching out into providing off-grid and rooftop solutions, developing its own 600 MW-plus project pipeline; building operations and maintenance capacity; and providing energy clients with the research and advice, through Knowledge Pele, to improve their social and economic impacts.

However, Mthembi, the only woman among the founders, and the MD of Knowledge Pele, says policy shifts are also required to support the emergence of operationally involved black-owned IPPs.

“The rules must change,” she says, arguing that, despite its success, the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), unintentionally incentivises “passive” over “participatory” ownership. “Ownership is not simply the ability to organize capital for the purposes of deal-making. That’s finance,” she adds.

That said, PEG will continue to partner with leading foreign and domestic IPPs having already established strong relationships with a leading Middle Eastern, and several leading European IPPs.

However, over time, it plans to “decouple its dependency” from these large IPPs and become a leading African power development and operating company with its own renewables and baseload power plants.

It bid its highest number of projects, including its first internally developed project, in the so-called “expedited” bid window of the REIPPPP and is playing a far more hands-on role in the 5 MW Klawer and 100 MW Copperton wind project, awarded as part of the small-scale IPP bid window and bid window four of the REIPPPP.

“We are developing the capacity to be able to build and develop things ourselves. It’s taken seven years, but we are on the cusp of becoming a fully-fledged IPP and, should legislative changes be made in future, we believe there is every possibility of PEG becoming a utility,” COO Motlogeloa concludes.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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