March 29, 2018 / 11:43 AM / 4 months ago

South African court dismisses bid to block $4.7 billion renewable deals

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A South African court on Thursday dismissed a bid to block $4.7 billion in renewable power contracts, an energy ministry spokeswoman said, removing an obstacle to the first major investment deal under President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The last-minute legal challenge was lodged earlier this month by the National Union of Metalworkers (NUMSA) and Transform RSA, a group which has lobbied for ousted president Jacob Zuma in the past.

It was opposed by the energy ministry and state power utility Eskom, which had been due to sign 27 mostly wind and solar deals with independent power producers (IPPs).

On Thursday the court in Pretoria said NUMSA and Transform RSA’s legal application was not urgent and should be set aside.

NUMSA and Transform RSA had argued that the deals would lead to coal-sector job losses and should be scrapped.

“Although we acknowledge the judgement we are dissatisfied,” Transform RSA president Adil Nchabeleng said, adding that his group would appeal the ruling.

A spokesman for Eskom said the power utility was ready to sign power purchase agreements with the IPPs when it received a directive from the energy ministry to do so.

Reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by Joe Brock

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