Photo: Dean Hutton

Durban - The eThekwini Municipality has urged the National Energy Regulator of South Africa to reject Eskom’s proposed “hefty” electricity tariff increase.

Mayor James Nxumalo expressed concern and cited consequences for the municipality and ratepayers if such a massive increase were okayed.

He said the city had noted Eskom’s submission for a further review of electricity tariff increases, which was in addition to the 14.25% increase already granted by energy regulator Nersa.

“It has been reported that if the request was granted it would push the total electricity increases up to 25.3%,” he said.

Nxumalo said the city did not support the additional increase because it would “negate our efforts to fast-track development and service delivery”.

He said the proposal could leave “the poorest of the poor worse off”. It would be a major blow to efforts to attract investment to the city and lead to an increase in electricity theft, as it would become an extremely expensive commodity, especially for the poor.

“While we understand the situation faced by Eskom and we are working together with the utility to maintain the power grid, we do not believe that such a hefty increase would be the correct solution.”

He said the municipality was mitigating the effects of the energy shortage through various strategies.

The Combined Ratepayers Association’s chairwoman, Lillian Develing, said the increase would “cripple the country”.

“People can’t afford it any more. (It’s) the last thing they can afford.”

Develing said news of the new proposed tariff increase was “enough to horrify anybody”.

She urged Nersa to reject the application. “What Eskom is not getting is that the more they increase electricity tariffs, the less electricity people will use.”

The power utility had to find an alternative solution.

“I don’t think it has been thought out. I think it’s just a quick-fix solution - every time it is a quick-fix. It’s just crippling the country … The consumers won’t be able to afford this because everything goes up. Pensions and salaries are pretty static - if not decreasing because of the interest rate not being great,” she said.

The Mercury