File picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso/ African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town – Civil society has called on the public to make use of public participation processes to have their say on Eskom tariff increases.

Eskom has applied for a substantial increase in tariffs to recover a shortfall in sales projections.

The National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) will hold public hearings in all nine provinces on Eskom’s Third Multi-Year Price Determination applications from January 14 to February 4.

The Western Cape leg of the hearings will take place at Southern Sun Cape Sun hotel, in Strand Street in the City centre, from January 14-15.

Sandra Dickson, of the STOP COCT action group which led the charge in defeating the City’s initial proposed drought charge, will be a presenter on behalf of the public at the hearing.

During the written call for comment, her campaign routed more than 150 000 emails from the public to Nersa.

“Eskom has already been awarded a backdated 4.41% increase by Nersa for 2019.

“In addition, Eskom is seeking a further annual increase of 15% for the next three years. ‘The total tariff increase asked for is therefore almost 20% per year, over three years.

‘‘This means that your electricity bill will double over the next three years,” Dickson said.

“We must let Nersa see that Capetonians mean to object and support the objections against such hefty increases.

‘‘If the public remains silent by presenting Nersa with an empty hall, they will take it as tacit agreement that the increases is accepted,” she added.

The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry said Eskom had reached a stage where its problems could no longer be solved by price increases. It said drastic action was now required.

“In fact, price increases will make things worse and reduce Eskom’s chances of recovery,” chamber president Janine Myburgh said.

Nersa had already granted an increase of 4.41%, and when we add this to 15%, we are already looking at an increase of nearly 20% in year one, she said.

The next 15% increase would be applied to a tariff that had already been increased, and the third 15% increase would apply to a tariff that had already been increased twice, so the total increase over three years would be nearly 59% and not the reported 45%.

Myburgh added that the demand for electricity was falling and would continue to fall as people turned to alternatives like gas, more efficient electric appliances and LED lighting.

All public hearings will be live-streamed on Nersa’s social media platforms: Twitter, @Nersa_ZA and Facebook, @NersaZA.

Programmes for all the public hearings will be available on Nersa’s website: www.Nersa.org.za