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Dreaded 17.6% electricity tariff hike hits battered City of Cape Town consumers

Prepaid electricity meters. Picture: Matthews Baloyi/African News Agency

Prepaid electricity meters. Picture: Matthews Baloyi/African News Agency

Published Jul 4, 2023


Cape Town - Cape Town households already battered and bruised by the cost-of-living crisis are dreading the effect of the new electricity tariffs that came into effect from July 1, driving electricity prices for municipal consumers up by 17.6%.

A statement from the City said customers should start seeing the new rates and tariffs in the July billing cycles.

“There are various billing cycles due to the volume of accounts. So, for instance, some customers may get their accounts in the second week, and some in the third, as an example.

“The electricity tariff is primarily driven by the Eskom increase. Some 70% of the City’s electricity tariff income is spent on buying the bulk power from Eskom.”

The City advised its customers to consider buying smaller amounts of prepaid electricity at a time and not in bulk, as it was not cheaper.

In effect, the tariff hike means that if, on June 30, you paid R161.90 for 150 units of electricity, after July 1 you will be paying R190.40, according to the City’s own example of average monthly account billing on the Lifeline tariff.

The Lifeline tariff is the City’s “special, highly subsidised tariff intended to provide relief to prepaid customers with limited means”.

The next tariff up is the Domestic tariff that applies if you have a prepaid meter installed and receiving more than 450kWh per month calculated on a 12-month average.

Being on this tariff also means that your municipal property valuation is between R500 000 and R1 million. If, before the increase, 250 units on this tariff cost you R745.75, they will now cost you R877 after the 17.6% hike.

Those on the Home User tariff and who fit the criteria of having a municipal property valuation of R1m and above will now pay R1 023.54 for 250 units of electricity instead of the R869.85 they had been paying until June 30.

Stop CoCT founder Sandra Dickson said: “The tariff increase has yet to hit people’s pockets, but many were already just squeaking by.”

She said the property rates also went up with little or no warning from the City, which made this increase criminal.

Khayelitsha Community Police Forum member Francina Lukas said: “With the current high cost of living, this increase will affect most people negatively. Those in the lower income groups already feel the pinch of paying too much.

“Those on social grants, for instance, already have less money for essentials and many depend on electricity for cooking and heating. On top of higher electricity costs they also have to deal with the issue of load shedding, which is often accompanied by spikes in crime.”

There was some good news on the horizon this week. Analysts predict that petrol and illuminating paraffin prices are set for a second consecutive month of decreases when fuel prices are officially adjusted on Wednesday.

FNB chief economist Mamello Matikinca-Ngwenya said: “Load shedding and sustained high food inflation are probably of primary concern to low- and middle-income households. But sharply lower paraffin prices and the extension of the jobs recovery in the services sector may cushion the impact on less affluent consumers.”

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