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Farmers worry over Eskom increase

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Farmers are extremely worried about Eskom's proposed 16 percent tariff hike, Free State Agriculture president Dan Kriek said on Monday.

“The increase can lead to more job losses and is counterproductive towards the development goals we are striving to achieve,” he told a National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) hearing in Bloemfontein.

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050910 Electricity pylons carry power from Cape Town's Koeberg nuclear power plant July 17, 2009. South Africa will need 20 gigawatts (GW) of new power generation capacity by 2020 and would require double that amount a decade later to meet rising demand, the country's power utility said September 7, 2009. Picture taken July 17, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings (SOUTH AFRICA ENERGY BUSINESS)

Kriek said the increase would have a direct impact on farmworkers who did not get free basic services from municipalities.

Eskom has applied to increase the electricity price 16 percent each year over the next five years. It has estimated that it would need R1.1 trillion for its infrastructure maintenance, staff costs, and growth.

Kriek said getting electricity to a farm for new farmers was already unaffordable.

Food prices at retail level would most certainly rise because of the production-limiting impact in primary agriculture, and the cost increases throughout the entire food chain.

“Implications for the poorest of the poor would be dire,” he said.

The Mangaung metro’s electricity body Centlec asked for an even tariff structure for rural towns.

Centlec supplies electricity to various southern Free State towns.

Chief operations officer Leon Kritzinger said tariffs for small towns and rural areas should be aligned with those of metros to ensure economic growth in all areas. - Sapa

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