Energy minister promises decision on independent power producers by month-end
A decision on the power purchase agreements with independent power producers (IPPs) will be taken by the end of the month, Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi said on Tuesday.
Independent producers of power from renewable energy have been waiting for more than a year for the decision. This is after Eskom refused to connect them to the grid on the grounds that the purchase price of the energy was too high at a time when the utility was burdened with surplus energy.
Kubayi told Parliament’s energy portfolio committee that positive progress had been made in the deliberations between the departments of energy and public enterprises and Eskom on bid windows 3.5 and 4, to which government has committed but which await signature.
"We have committed to an energy mix understanding that renewables have a key role to play and are part of the energy mix. From our side as the department we remain committed to proceeding," the minister said.
However, one of the hurdles to overcome is the interdict brought by the coal industry against the Department of Energy, the National Energy Regulator of SA and Eskom for no power purchase agreements to be signed.
Kubayi said this would have to be dealt with, and expressed concern over the high level of lobbying by industry interests.
She also told MPs that the department was well on track to finalising the integrated energy plan and integrated resource plan by end-February 2018 (instead of end March as previously targeted) — in time for the tabling of the national budget.
Kubayi receives monthly reports on the progress and there are regular meetings of the interministerial committee.
Turning to efforts in dealing with the high level of vacancies in the department, Kubayi reported that interviews for the three positions of deputy director-general were held on Monday.
She had instructed the boards of all the entities falling under the department to deal with their vacancies as a matter of urgency.
The department’s suspended chief financial officer is undergoing a disciplinary process and the disciplinary process of deputy director-general Ompie Aphane, who is suspended, is due to start soon.
As some posts were not funded, the department is looking at abolishing posts in line with the its reduced budget and fiscal constraints. The department would have to do more with less.