There might be some respite for Durban residents in the form of a lower-than-expected electricity price increase in the next financial year.

The city’s electricity department has proposed a 5.5 percent increase to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa), instead of the average 8 percent increase Eskom had received for its entire customer base.

Eskom supplies 95 percent of South Africa’s power needs.

Nersa cited the global economic recession as the reason it had approved the 8 percent increase.

But Sandile Maphumulo, the city’s head of electricity, said they expected the utility to charge the municipality less than that.

“It (5.5 percent) is not a final figure, but what we are proposing as an increase. It still has to be approved,” he said during a presentation to the city’s human settlements and infrastructure committee on Tuesday.

Maphumulo said until the municipality received feedback from its council and Nersa, he could not say much more on the proposal.

Last month, Durban residents were urged to reduce their electricity use as much as possible after Eskom announced a plan to reintroduce rolling blackouts this winter.

It said this was because several of its power stations needed repairs and maintenance that could not be postponed.

Eskom warned that if the repairs were not done, it could result in its entire system collapsing and causing more damage to the economy.

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