Energy Minister David Mahlobo. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Energy Minister David Mahlobo. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

The signing of agreements for renewable energy power producers who bid successfully for projects in rounds 3.5 and 4 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Programme (REIPP) was again postponed on Thursday, despite a previous promise from Energy Minister David Mahlobo that the long-awaited event would occur this week.

The minister said at last week’s Energy Indaba that Eskom was working on the contracts, which would unlock about R55bn in investment, although he declined to say whether a cap of 77c/kilowatt hour (kWh) declared by his predecessor, Mmamoloko Kubayi, would be enforced.

A well-placed source, who asked not to be named, said the Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme office had said the agreements were ready to sign on Monday, then asked for a few more days, until Thursday, to complete the final details. But on Wednesday Eskom raised the issue of the 77c/kWh cap. This issue has been extensively discussed, the source said.

Eskom spokesman Khulu Phasiwe said Eskom had not signed any agreement on Thursday. On Friday the Department of Public Enterprises would meet Eskom’s board of directors to discuss a number of issues, including this one.

The source said renewable power producers were now being told that the signing would take place on Tuesday, but they are sceptical because the ANC conference will still be on.

The source said the signing of these agreements should be considered urgent since layoffs were pending in the industry and this was the time when international companies were allocating their annual budgets.

People were feeling the pinch so much that signing even one or two power purchase deals "would have helped to improve investor confidence".