File photo: African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – The Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (Safcei), along with community leaders and other organisations, will present their arguments to the National Energy Regulator (Nersa), opposing Eskom’s proposed tariff increases today.

Eskom has requested an electricity price hike of 15% for 2019, with a projected overall increase of 45% to 2021.

Nersa has asked for public input at hearings around the country from today before making a decision.

Safcei has objected to Eskom’s application, saying it was based on an inflated demand projection, which is out of touch with consumption trends. And Eskom’s focus seems to be on managing its debt, rather than curbing escalating operational costs caused by poor management.

Safcei Energy and Climate Justice Campaign co-ordinator Vainola Makan said: “If granted, this price increase will severely impact all consumers of electricity across the country, many of whom are already struggling to pay their daily bills. Communities should not have to bear the brunt of the energy increases every year, particularly since Eskom management does not seem committed to recovering the mismanaged funds.”

Nationwide load shedding was still a reality for South Africans, highlighting once again the urgent need for restructuring and improved management of Eskom, she added.

Safcei Eco-Justice Lead Liz McDaid said: “Raising electricity prices to enable Eskom to continue to operate its fleet in an inefficient manner not only puts a heavy burden on the poor and vulnerable. Increased electricity prices also impact businesses, particularly small ones. Not sensible in an economy that is not growing.”

The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry has said Eskom reached a stage where its problems can no longer be solved by price increases and 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.

She said Nersa has already granted an increase of 4.41% and when one added this to 15% one is already looking at an increase of nearly 20% in year one. 

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

The Western Cape public hearings take place today from 9am to 5pm at the Southern Sun Cape Sun in the city centre.

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