Jeff Radebe defends 'clean energy' deals despite objections

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Last night, Energy Minister Jeff Radebe via his official Twitter account confirmed that on Tuesday he will be signing the 27 renewable energy contracts. "The energy minister was forced to give an undertaking in court that he would not sign the IPP agreements on Tuesday until the matter has been given a full hearing by the High Court", the union said.

South Africa can not fight the move towards renewable power, energy expert Chris Yelland said on Tuesday. Below are some of the reactions expressed on Twitter.

Numsa said, as the recognised trade union at Eskom, it wants to be given an opportunity to engage Eskom, Radebe and the National Energy Regulator of SA on the implications that the IPPs will bring to its members and their families. "Eskom was planning to sign these agreements despite the fact that a previous application, by the Coal Transporters Forum to interdict them from signing, is still pending at the north Gauteng high court". "It is expected that over the next 3 years, at least 61 000 jobs - or 6% of government's targeted 1 million jobs - will be created in renewables as a result of moving this program forward", says Wills. Electricity prices will skyrocket because of the IPP roll out; while at the same time that Value-Added Tax and the fuel price are going up, workers are being paid slave wages of R20 per hour and less. The 27 projects include wind, solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP) technologies.

"Instead, the coal lobby has sought an urgent interdict to delay the conclusion of power purchase agreements, citing already-debunked arguments relating to job losses, coal power station closures and rising electricity prices".

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NUMSA is not only trying to prevent the inevitable, but they are also trying to keep South Africa in bondage to expensive and polluting means of generating power. "The reality is that we are living in a country now experiencing 36% unemployment rate and sitting at over 50% poverty rate, such job losses will have a dire effect on economies where these coal stations are located", added Hlubi-Majola.

She disputed Radebe's job-creation numbers, and said that the deal would only sustain the employment numbers claimed by the minister only in the construction phase of these renewable power stations.

"The Department of Energy will continue to vigorously defend the right of consumers in our country to have access to cost-efficient clean energy that bring much-needed investment in South Africa as well as jobs (especially for women and the youth) and small business entrepreneurial opportunities in our rural communities".