Eskom tar­iff hikes op­posed

‘Price in­creases will make things worse’

Cape Times - - METRO - STAFF WRITER

THE South­ern African Faith Com­mu­ni­ties’ En­vi­ron­ment In­sti­tute (Saf­cei) along with com­mu­nity lead­ers and other or­gan­i­sa­tions will present their ar­gu­ments to the Na­tional En­ergy Reg­u­la­tor (Nersa), op­pos­ing Eskom’s pro­posed tar­iff in­creases to­day.

Eskom has re­quested an elec­tric­ity price hike of 15% for 2019, with a pro­jected over­all in­crease of 45% to 2021.

Nersa has asked for pub­lic in­put at hear­ings around the coun­try from to­day be­fore mak­ing a de­ci­sion.

Saf­cei has ob­jected to Eskom’s ap­pli­ca­tion, say­ing it was based on an in­flated de­mand pro­jec­tion, which is out of touch with con­sump­tion trends. And Eskom’s fo­cus seems to be on manag­ing its debt, rather than curb­ing es­ca­lat­ing op­er­a­tional costs caused by poor man­age­ment.

Saf­cei En­ergy and Cli­mate Jus­tice Cam­paign co-or­di­na­tor Vain­ola Makan said: “If granted, this price in­crease will se­verely im­pact all con­sumers of elec­tric­ity across the coun­try, many of whom are al­ready strug­gling to pay their daily bills. Com­mu­ni­ties should not have to bear the brunt of the en­ergy in­creases ev­ery year, par­tic­u­larly since Eskom man­age­ment does not seem com­mit­ted to re­cov­er­ing the mis­man­aged funds.”

Na­tion­wide load shed­ding was still a re­al­ity for South Africans, high­light­ing once again the ur­gent need for re­struc­tur­ing and im­proved man­age­ment of Eskom, she added.

Saf­cei Eco-Jus­tice Lead Liz McDaid said: “Rais­ing elec­tric­ity prices to en­able Eskom to con­tinue to op­er­ate its fleet in an in­ef­fi­cient man­ner not only puts a heavy bur­den on the poor and vul­ner­a­ble. In­creased elec­tric­ity prices also im­pact busi­nesses, par­tic­u­larly small ones. Not sen­si­ble in an econ­omy that is not grow­ing.”

The Cape Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try has said Eskom reached a stage where its prob­lems can no longer be solved by price in­creases and dras­tic ac­tion was now re­quired.

“In fact price in­creases will make things worse and re­duce Eskom’s chances of re­cov­ery,” Cham­ber pres­i­dent Ja­nine My­burgh said.

She said Nersa has al­ready granted an in­crease of 4.41% and when one added this to 15% one is al­ready look­ing at an in­crease of nearly 20% in year one. The next 15% in­crease will be ap­plied to a tar­iff that has al­ready been in­creased and the third 15% in­crease will ap­ply to a tar­iff that has al­ready been in­creased twice, so the to­tal in­crease over three years will be nearly 59% and not the 45% that has been re­ported.

The Western Cape pub­lic hear­ings take place to­day from 9am to 5pm at the South­ern Sun Cape Sun in the city cen­tre.

All pub­lic hear­ings will be livestreamed on Nersa’s so­cial me­dia plat­forms: Twit­ter @NERSA_ZA and Face­book @NERSAZA.

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