Cape Town - 121022 - South African power utility Eskom has applied to more than double the price of its electricity over the next five years. The state-owned utility said it has applied for a 16 percent annual increase for five years from April 2013 to March 2018. Many South Africans are struggling with the current cost of electricity. Pictured is teacher Michael Guzana with his son Hluma Guzana. Reporter: Yolisa Tswana PICTURE: SUPPLIED

Johannesburg - The National Energy Regulator of SA's (Nersa) public hearings into Eskom's proposed tariff hikes need to be held in poorer areas of the country, Cosatu said on Monday.

Nersa was out of touch with the working class because it held the hearings in venues that excluded most of them, Gauteng Congress of SA Trade Unions secretary Dumisani Dakile told reporters in Johannesburg.

“We will not call these hearings as public hearings until such time that Nersa convenes hearings in the poor communities and not in the current suburbs, which demonstrate their bias to the elite.

“These so-called public hearings are just a smoke screen and we know... that Nersa is just camouflaging these processes as public hearings and they will not listen to the rejection of the proposed tariff.”

Cosatu in Gauteng would table its objection to the tariffs on January 30.

The energy regulator is gathering views on Eskom's proposed revenue application multi-year price determination 2013/14, otherwise known as MYPD3, throughout the country.

Eskom had asked for a 16 percent increase in electricity prices each year for the next five years.

This would take the price of electricity from 61 cents a kilowatt hour in 2012/13, to 128 cents a kWh in 2017/18 Ä more than doubling the price over five years.

The Gauteng hearings into MYPD3 would be held in Midrand from January 30 to 31. Cosatu would protest against Eskom and Nersa on both days.

“We also wish to indicate that these demonstrations are just the beginning of massive campaigns against Eskom and Nersa in the province of Gauteng.” - Sapa