Eskom hear­ing be­gins

Pub­lic urged to par­tic­i­pate and ob­ject to pro­posed 45% in­crease over three years

Cape Argus - - FRONT PAGE - JA­SON FELIX

EN­ERGY ac­tivists are gear­ing up for ro­bust pub­lic in­put as the Na­tional En­ergy Reg­u­la­tor (Nersa) be­gins its hear­ing this morn­ing in Cape Town on Eskom’s re­quest for a 45% tar­iff in­crease over the next three years.

Nersa, tasked with mak­ing the fi­nal de­ci­sions on elec­tric­ity tar­iffs, is host­ing an all-day pub­lic hear­ing at the Cape Sun Ho­tel to­day, where con­sumers can air their views on power util­ity Eskom’s re­quest for the in­crease. Eskom is ask­ing Nersa for a 15% yearly elec­tric­ity in­crease for the next three years.

This in­crease is on top of the 4.41% hike that was al­ready granted to Eskom by Nersa. Eskom has ar­gued that this 15% in­crease was needed to en­sure that it main­tained its sta­bil­ity and growth tra­jec­tory.

Stop COCT founder San­dra Dick­son has urged Capeto­ni­ans to speak at the event.

“The 2018 Eskom in­crease was much higher by the time it reached the cit­i­zens of Cape Town as the City of Cape Town added its cut.

“It is there­fore ex­pected that the an­nual in­crease will end up be­ing more than 20% a year by the time it reaches the pub­lic on their util­ity bills,” Dick­son said.

“We there­fore urge the pub­lic to at­tend the hear­ing. We must let Nersa see that Capeto­ni­ans mean to sup­port the ob­jec­tions against such hefty in­creases.

“If the pub­lic re­mains silent by pre­sent­ing Nersa with an empty hall they will take it as an agree­ment that the in­creases are ac­cepted,” Dick­son said.

En­ergy ex­pert Ted Blom said al­though Eskom had ac­knowl­edged a bloated head­count of 35000 staff in­clud­ing ghost work­ers, Nersa con­tin­ued to ig­nore the gross in­ef­fi­cien­cies.

“And it has since 2008 granted tar­iff in­creases of high per­cent­ages above the cor­re­spond­ing in­fla­tion rate. This has just fu­elled and fi­nanced the ram­pant cor­rup­tion,” Blom said.

Last year, Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa in­ter­vened in the cri­sis at Eskom by ap­point­ing a team of eight to steer the board in the right di­rec­tion by Jan­uary31 this year. Two of those mem­bers have since re­signed.

An­other group that has joined the anti-in­crease cho­rus is the South­ern African Faith Com­mu­ni­ties’ En­vi­ron­ment In­sti­tute.

It will – along with faith and com­mu­nity lead­ers – present its ar­gu­ments for op­pos­ing Eskom’s pro­posed tar­iff in­creases.

The in­sti­tute’s En­ergy and Cli­mate Jus­tice Cam­paign Co-or­di­na­tor, Vain­ola Makan, said that if granted, the tar­iff in­crease would se­verely im­pact all con­sumers of elec­tric­ity across the coun­try.

She said na­tion­wide load shed­ding was still a re­al­ity for South Africans, high­light­ing once again the ur­gent need for the re­struc­tur­ing and im­proved man­age­ment of Eskom.

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