At the State of the Nation address we heard that “Eskom will sign the outstanding power purchase agreements for renewable energy in line with the procured rounds”.
That was more than two months ago, which was already six months late as Eskom first refused to sign contracts with preferred bidders at the end of July 2016.
Eskom is owned by the state, and the outstanding contracts are part of the government backed renewables programme, so in theory there should never have been any delays in signing the contracts in the first place.
The most recent date for signing was set as April 11: the independent power producers had done all their paper work, and it was simply up to Eskom to sign. However, since the infamous cabinet reshuffle, there is now a new Minister of Energy, Ms Mmamoloko Kubayi, who requested a postponement.
This is a difficult issue. While Kubayi needs time to find her feet in her new role, it is not productive to put everything on hold because someone has a new job.
The net result is that there is yet another delay in a process of progressive change in the energy sector.
There must be an urgent clear directive as to how to get these contracts signed as soon as possible. The 37 projects on hold have a combined investment value of about R58 billion, will create jobs and provide clean energy for South Africa.
A shift to renewable energy is in the best interests of our people and the environment. We have had enough delays.