A final workshop in a series hosted by the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) brought together key representatives of the three constituencies concerned with economic development under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).
Parties included economic development directors of project companies, community trustees and employees of community trusts.
Each of these groups focus on the implementation of distinct facets of local economic development in rural communities adjacent to wind farms in the Northern, Eastern and Western Cape.
“SAWEA has hosted this series of workshops to improve collective understanding of the purpose, challenges and opportunities associated with community trusts. As the industry association for wind power in South Africa, SAWEA is concerned with both the socioeconomic and operational contributions of the national utility-scale renewable procurement programme,” said SAWEA CEO Brenda Martin.
Participants used the opportunity to improve their mutual understanding of the policy basis for economic development under the REIPPPP and to lay a foundation for increased effectiveness of trusts across provinces.
Representing each of the three provinces, which now boast the highest volume of renewable-energy utility power plants in South Africa, participants recognised the value of improved collective knowledge to ensure more effective, engaged community trusts.
Additionally, improved collective knowledge will enable the three constituencies to drive improved effectiveness of implementation in compliance with existing renewable energy programme rules, and to recommend adjustments to future rules.
“The workshops have been well-attended and provided participants with the immediate opportunity to hear the perspectives of their counterparts, as well as to express their own views. Several new relationships of cooperation across provinces and interests have been initiated and networks of practice have been expanded,” commented Martin.
The national renewables programme seeks to ensure that independent power producers (IPPs) include minimum shareholding for community trusts. This ownership structure has been built into the IPP business framework and goes beyond typical corporate social initiative efforts to bridge a number of socioeconomic interests.
“Such public–private partnerships have an important role to play in strengthening local communities,” Martin said.
One of the objectives of the workshop was to develop a deeper understanding of the experiences of community trustees and community trust conveners. The latter are administrators employed by trusts.
The workshop concluded with recommendations to industry, community trusts and to government.
“SAWEA will work with industry to take its workshop recommendations forward as part of its three-year business plan to 2020 and will also work with community trusts to take recommendations to government,” noted Martin.