Renewables industry to co-operate with public protector's probe

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The South African renewable energy industry says it will co-operate with the public protector’s investigation into Eskom signing power producer agreements (PPAs) in April 2018.

This after media reports emerged that Mkwebane is looking to probe the multi-billion-rand renewable energy independent power producer (IPP) contracts.

In its results yesterday, Eskom lamented that expenditure on renewable energy IPPs increased to R22.2 billion for the year from R19 billion in March 2018.

According to an IOL report, in a letter to Eskom board chairman and acting CEO, Jabu Mabuza, Mkhwebane said a complaint laid by Phapano Phasha of the Anti-Poverty Forum alleges that the signing of the alleged contracts was improper and unlawful.

Eskom’s management has since committed to complying with the latest investigations by the office of the public protector.

The complaint alleges that Eskom pays R93 million per day to IPPs and the power utility will lose up to R34 billion a year as a result of the agreement.

Last year the government signed a R58 billion contract, expected to add 2 300MW of electricity to the national grid over the next five years with 27 independent renewable energy power producers.

The 27 new projects is the biggest IPP procurement by the Department of Energy to date.

The renewable energy industry in SA, represented by the South African Renewable Energy Council (SAREC), has responded to the reports regarding the public protector’s investigation.

“It has been noted that the public protector has requested information from the Eskom chairman in order to determine if an investigation is warranted,” says SAREC in a statement.

“At such time, the industry has indicated that it will co-operate, should it be required to do so by the public protector.”

SAREC notes that the South African government reaffirmed its support of the industry in April last year based on the approved Integrated Resource Plan, with the conclusion of duly procured PPAs from IPPs in South Africa.

“This reawakened the country’s Renewable Energy Power Producer Procurement Programme, a programme that is recognised as a winning public-private partnership model.”

It notes that the tariffs under the PPAs were procured to target over a 20-year period higher than normal jobs per project, support for local communities and business, skills development, manufacturing, development of Eskom infrastructure to supply power in South Africa, funding from the private sector and complimented to ensure the lowest cost of energy.

“This highly credible and transparent programme was born out of government’s vision for an expansion of South Africa’s energy mix to include renewable power from independent producers with a range of clear developmental imperatives.”

It notes that the commissioning of over 4 000MW to date into the national grid is one of the many reasons for almost zero load shedding in SA during the past months.

SAREC aims to promote the renewable energy sector in SA and represents a number of industry associations across a range of renewable energy technologies, like wind, solar and biogas.

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