Eskom’s reasons for continuing to stall on signing long-overdue purchase agreements with independent producers of renewable power are more complex than its plea of poverty in Parliament last week, energy watchers say. SA’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme, once internationally acclaimed for its efficiency, has become a shambles as Eskom failed to sign offtake agreements with the winning bidders of rounds 4 and 4.5 announced in April 2015. Those bidders committed R58bn in investment to 37 projects. Some of the companies that won bids are weeks away from collapse, after paying hefty prepayments amounting to millions of rand to Eskom. Department of Energy director-general Ompi Aphane told Parliament that Eskom needed support from the Treasury to strengthen its balance sheet before it could sign the agreements. It wants R44bn over two years to meet these commitments and a 19.9% tariff increase in 2018-19 — almost three times SA’s inflation rate. These processes coul...

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