File image: Eskom. IOL.
JOHANNESBURG - The Congress of South African Trade Unions yesterday urged the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) to reject Eskom’s application to recoup R66 billion, saying such a move was unaffordable, unreasonable and unjustifiable. 

If the Regulatory Clearing Account (RCA) application – which covers the 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17 financial years – is approved, Eskom would claw back the billions of rand through higher tariffs. 

According to various organisations, the R66bn could lead to a 30 percent increase in tariffs. 

Public hearings 

The RCA is a backward-looking mechanism that seeks to reconcile what Nersa awarded Eskom on the basis of what was forecast in the Multi-Year Price Determination (MYPD) and what materialised, as reflected in the utility’s financial statements. 

In a presentation at Nersa’s public hearings on the application in Cape Town yesterday, Cosatu said higher tariffs were not the solution to Eskom’s problems. It said higher tariffs affected key sectors such as mining, inflation and economic competitiveness. It said Eskom had failed to come clean on state capture and to take serious action against maladministration and corruption. 

The trade union federation said Eskom should institute comprehensive forensic and criminal investigation “with dismissals, arrests, asset seizures and prosecutions”. 

Speaking at the hearing, Eskom interim chief executive Phakamani Hadebe said Eskom’s sustainability depended on a sound regulatory environment that was aligned with existing Nersa rules and other legislative requirements. 

“We therefore rely on Nersa to review our application in line with the MYPD3 methodology, which is a globally accepted regulatory principle that reconciles variances between the
projected and actual revenue and costs that Eskom incurred for certain elements. “It is also worth noting that we based our application on the decision already taken by Nersa on our first RCA application for 2013/14. 

“We have spent the money in the implementation of our mandate of providing electricity to South Africans by raising debt as it was not included in the revenue decision and need to repay those loans accordingly in order to ensure credibility with our lenders.” 

Hadebe said Eskom’s application only covered costs that were incurred efficiently and prudently. 

Recovery 

He said Eskom was on a path of recovery on governance. The Eskom board – appointed in January – was preoccupied with the power utility’s operational and financial stability. “Continued focus and effort will be placed in combating corruption and pursuing justice within the legal framework. We also welcome various investigative interventions that are under way to get to the bottom of recent acts of fraud and corruption, and we are in the process of claiming back money owing to Eskom, including money that was fraudulently paid to McKinsey and Trillian,” said Hadebe. 

Agri Western Cape said electricity costs had risen significantly since 2008. The federation of farming organisations said Eskom’s RCA should be vetted by auditors.

- BUSINESS REPORT