Nersa’s head office in Pretoria. The organisation’s decision on Eskom’s tariff hike is expected to be announced on December 7.Photo: Antoine de Ras
The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) has rejected claims by lobby group, Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) that the regulator had allowed Eskom to hide information relating to coal costs in the power utility’s application for a 19.9% tariff increase.

Outa on Thursday insinuated that Nersa was helping Eskom conceal corrupt coal deals and linked the move to allegations of state capture in key government entities, including Eskom. At the centre of the allegations is the perceived influence of the Gupta family in the state-owned companies.

Outa has threatened legal action against Nersa in a bid to force the regulator to reveal the coal costs.

In its application to Nersa, Eskom included the information on coal burn costs, but this was blacked-out in the version released for public comment. The blacked out information included assumed coal burn costs per power station as well as coal burn volume per power station.

Nersa has refuted Outa’s allegations, saying on July 27, the energy regulator did not approve Eskom’s application to deviate from meeting certain requirements of the Multi-Year Price Determination (MYPD) methodology and Minimum Information Requirements for a Tariff Application (Mirta).

Nersa issues minimum information requirements that provide clarity on needed information for tariff applications.

The information guides applicants on the information required by Nersa for tariff determination and decision making.

The effect of this decision resulted in Eskom submitting a complete application on August 25 with all information in compliance with the MYPD Methodology and Mirta. When submitting its revenue application, Eskom requested “confidential treatment of specified information,” Nersa spokesperson, Charles Hlebela said.

Hlebela said Nersa evaluated Eskom’s request for confidential treatment on September 4 and approved elements of the request in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

“The decision of the Energy Regulator of September 4 relates to (Promotion of Access to Information Act) application by Eskom.

“The decisions of July 27 and September 4 are not related, either by subject matter or applicability,” said Hlebela.

In the version out for public comment, Nersa also blacked out information relating to the volume of coal on stockpiles per power station.

The withheld information referred to the tons of coal on stockpiles during the 2017 financial year end, the first quarter of 2018 financial year.

Friday was the last day for stakeholder comments on the Eskom application.

According to Nersa’s timeline for processing the application, the regulator will conduct public hearings in all nine provinces later this month and next month.

The organisation is set to announce its decision on December 7. Eskom has applied for a total allowable revenue of R219.5bn, which translates to the 19.9% increase in electricity tariffs.