JOHANNESBURG - Eskom will start bulk electricity "disruptions" in the Emfuleni local municipality in Gauteng with effect from August 6 due to the monthly increase of the municipality's debt, the power parastatal said on Sunday.

Eskom had received numerous representations as to why the supply of bulk electricity to the municipality should not be interrupted, it said in a statement.

"In light of these representations, Eskom proactively approached provincial government in the form of the provincial treasury as well as the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) to facilitate a position where the supply of electricity would remain on."

Due to the monthly increase of debt of about R200 000,000 and with the municipality making no, or insufficient payments to cover its arrear debt and current consumption, Eskom had been left with no other alternative but to implement electricity disruptions on August 6.

Eskom had a statutory obligation to generate and supply electricity to municipalities nationally on a financially sustainable basis. Eskom generated and supplied electricity at a cost. On the other hand, the municipality had a reciprocal duty to pay Eskom for the electricity supplied.

"The municipality’s breach of its payment obligation to Eskom undermines and places in jeopardy Eskom’s ability to continue the national supply of electricity on a financial sustainable basis. In terms of both the provisions of the Electricity Regulation Act 4 of 2006 and the electricity supply agreements between the municipality and Eskom, the latter (Eskom) is entitled to terminate the supply of electricity to the municipality on account of non-payment of the electricity debt," the statement said.

The towns and municipal areas affected by the contemplated interruption and/or disconnection - except those directly supplied by Eskom - were Vereeniging, Vanderbijlpark, Sebokeng, Boipatong, Tshepiso, Sharpeville, and Evaton.

“In order to protect the national interest in the sustainability of electricity supply it has become necessary for Eskom to exercise its right to reduce, interrupt, and/or terminate the supply of electricity to the defaulting municipality. Eskom recognises that the indefinite disconnection of electricity supply may cause undue hardship to consumers and members of the community, and may adversely affect the delivery of other services,” said Motlhabane Ramashi, acting senior manager for customer services in the Gauteng operating unit

To minimise any hardship to consumers and members of the community, Eskom was contemplating a regulated interruption of electricity supply as opposed to an outright disconnection. 

The contemplated regulated interruption would allow members of the community and consumers the opportunity to make alternative arrangements for the scheduled periods of interruption, Ramashi said.

African News Agency (ANA)