The Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, yesterday reserved judgment on the application.
While the forum is of the opinion that the switch to renewable energy will cause job losses both in the mining industry and in the transporting of coal, it mainly based its case on the procedure not followed by government in engaging with the IPPs.
According to the forum, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) first had to make various decisions before it could enter into agreements with the IPPs.
These include determining to whom electricity generating licences should be issued and the tariff and provisions that would be contained in the agreements between the IPPs and the buyer.
It is also said that the prices and tariff at which the electricity that is produced by an IPP should be sold and purchased, must also be determined before signing the contracts.
Judge Pieter Meyer posed an array of questions to the advocate acting for the forum and at times entered into a debate with him regarding the forum’s stance on these matters.
While it was argued on behalf of the forum that all the requirements must still be adhered to before Eskom could legally issue licences to the IPPs to supply alternative energy to it, the judge said the overwhelming evidence was that these licences had already been issued.
The forum is of the opinion that in that case, all the power purchase agreements in respect of Bid Windows 4 and onwards that have been concluded between Eskom and the IPPs, should be declared null and void.
It maintained that Nersa didn’t follow the proper procedure and thus Eskom could not sign off on the deals.
It was argued on behalf of the minister of energy, that government had taken the decision years ago to enter into agreements with alternative energy providers to achieve a sustainable electricity supply for the country.
Unless the forum asked that these decisions be reviewed, it stood, the judge was told.
The forum did concede that “If it can be shown that Nersa did in fact make the decisions relating to the agreements as claimed, then this application will be ill-founded. This is because the decisions should have been taken on review many years ago”.
The IPPs, represented by advocate Wim Trengove SC, said as the agreements had already been concluded between government and the IPPs, the forum couldn’t ask for an interdict to stop them.
“There is no point in an interdict because the horse has bolted,” he told the judge.
The forum, earlier during a media briefing, said it was not against renewable energy as such, but was concerned about the pending massive job losses that could ensue if the IPPs programmes went ahead.