Last week, the industry was shocked to hear Kubayi announce they must all renegotiate their previously-agreed tariffs down to 77c/kilowatt-hour.
This would get them their long-delayed power purchase agreements with Eskom by November.
Looking for clarity, they learnt that Kubayi had left for the Brics summit in China and would take leave afterwards, said Mark Pickering, managing director of solar industry lobby group Sapvia.
“The minister drops this massive bombshell, then promptly leaves for China. After that, we are told, she is on leave for two weeks,” he told City Press.
The department and the minister’s spokespeople said they could not confirm the minister’s itinerary.
“The lawyers are really clear – there is no legal basis for this,” Pickering told City Press.
The department of energy simply endorsed Eskom’s attempt to “squash” South Africa’s flagship public-private partnership initiative – the renewable energy independent power producer (IPP) purchase programme – he said.
Kubayi’s announcement affects 27 projects representing at least R60 billion in capital expenditure.
“By setting a date and a price, you contradict the idea of a negotiation,” said Pickering.
“What is left to negotiate? It is absolutely clear that it is Eskom trying to squash the IPP office. To our astonishment, the minister has bought Eskom’s line hook, line and sinker,” he told City Press.
Eskom seems to be winning the battle on other fronts as well.
Coincidentally, the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) is this week holding a hearing on complaints that the renewables sector lodged against Eskom months ago.
Despite the industry’s objections, it would be a closed hearing, said Pickering.