The public has been urged to participate and object to the proposed 45% tariff increase over the next three years. Picture: Supplied
Cape Town - Energy activists are gearing up for robust public input as the National Energy Regulator (Nersa) begins its hearing this morning, 14 January, in Cape Town on Eskom’s request for a 45% tariff increase over the next three years.

Nersa, tasked with making the final decisions on electricity tariffs, is hosting an all-day public hearing at the Cape Sun Hotel today, where consumers can air their views on power utility Eskom's request for the increase. Eskom is asking Nersa for a 15% yearly electricity increase for the next three years.

This increase is on top of the 4.41% hike that was already granted to Eskom by Nersa. Eskom has argued that this 15% increase was needed to ensure that it maintained its stability and growth trajectory.

Stop COCT founder Sandra Dickson has urged Capetonians to speak at the event.

“The 2018 Eskom increase was much higher by the time it reached the citizens of Cape Town as the City of Cape Town added its cut.

“It is therefore expected that the annual increase will end up being more than 20% a year by the time it reaches the public on their utility bills,” Dickson said.

“We therefore urge the public to attend the hearing. We must let Nersa see that Capetonians mean to support the objections against such hefty increases.

“If the public remains silent by presenting Nersa with an empty hall they will take it as an agreement that the increases are accepted,” Dickson said.

Energy expert Ted Blom said although Eskom had acknowledged a bloated headcount of 35000 staff including ghost workers, Nersa continued to ignore the gross inefficiencies.

“And it has since 2008 granted tariff increases of high percentages above the corresponding inflation rate. This has just fuelled and financed the rampant corruption,” Blom said.

Last year, President Cyril Ramaphosa intervened in the crisis at Eskom by appointing a team of eight to steer the board in the right direction by January 31 this year. Two of those members have since resigned.

Another group that has joined the anti-increase chorus is the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute.

It will - along with faith and community leaders - present its arguments for opposing Eskom's proposed tariff increases.

The institute’s Energy and Climate Justice Campaign Co-ordinator, Vainola Makan, said that if granted, the tariff increase would severely impact all consumers of electricity across the country.

She said nationwide load shedding was still a reality for South Africans, highlighting once again the urgent need for the restructuring and improved management of Eskom.

@JasonFelix

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Cape Argus