Electricity tariff hikes out of our hands, Energy department tells SDCEA and Durban community

Bongani Mthembu of the SDCEA at the seminar. Picture: Xolile Mtembu / IOL

Bongani Mthembu of the SDCEA at the seminar. Picture: Xolile Mtembu / IOL

Published Jul 10, 2024


The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) held a seminar on Tuesday at the Diakonia Council of Churches in the City centre to discuss electricity tariff increases, load shedding, and renewable energy.

Also in attendance were organisations such as the Vukani Environmental Movement (VEM), Abahlali Base-Mjondolo (ABM), groundWork and Sustainable Energy Africa (SEA).

“We have no money for electricity and water. All of our money is going into these needs...We had to have a programme that moves away from electricity by coal and places them solar panels instead,” said SDCEA’s founder Desmond D’Sa.

Tristan Meek of SDCEA said that at some point, Eskom realised that electricity demand exceeded its generation. “The amount of electricity was not enough. That is what caused us to have load shedding,” he said.

Meek presented a timeline of electricity increases in SA in recent years:

Around 2007 and 2008 - Load shedding was first implemented.

2009 - 31.3% Tariff hike.

2010 to 2013 - Between 2010 and 2013, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) approved annual increases of 24.8%, 25.8%, 16%, and 8%, respectively.

2015 - 12.69% tariff increase.

2017 - Government bailouts.

“Eskom receives significant financial support from the government to help stabilise its finances amid concerns about corruption and mismanagement,” Meek said.

2018 - 5.23% increase for the 2018/2019 financial year.

2019 - 13.87% increase for 2019/2020.

2020 - 15.63% tariff increase for the 2021/2022 financial year.

2021 -17.8% increase for 2021/2022.

2022 - 9.61% increase for the 2022/2025 financial year.

2023 - 12.74% tariff increases for the 2023/2024.

2024 - “Eskom will ask SA’s energy regulator for an electricity tariff of 36.15% in 2025 for customers it directly charges and supplies. Customers relying on electricity supply from local authorities (municipalities) could also be slapped with an increase of 42.55%,” stated Meek, suggesting renewable energy as a solution.

Fanelesibonge Magwaza of groundWork said that renewable energy is essential in the face of the climate crisis, which has caused floods, droughts, and other devastation. Magwaza added that he believes in a Just Transition.

“The guiding principles of a Just Transition is that climate ambitions cannot be divorced social, environmental and economic justice. We will begin by decarbonising the economy, transitioning to ecologically regenerative and sustainable land use,” he said.

According to Magwaza, the Just Transition works by increasing equality, reducing emissions and ensures future-readiness.

Fanelesibonge Magwaza of groundWork said renewable energy is essential in the face of climate crisis that has caused floods, drought and other devastation. Picture: Xolile Mtembu / IOL

In response, Siyethemba Luthuli, a representative from the Department of Energy, said that the municipality is also an Eskom customer and that the community must understand that the issue of price hikes is out of its hands.

“Your words of, ‘down with high electricity prices and down with the oppression of citizens’ are heavy. Our job is not to oppress but to work for the people. We find ourselves as pat of the system...We buy electricity from Eskom and sell it to you.

“So, we are also complaining because when Eskom raises their prices, we have to raise ours as well. But we don’t raise our prices like Eskom does. This is because we love you guys,” Luthuli said.

He stated that the Municipality tries by all means to find middle ground.

“I myself set the prices for Durban. My job is difficult because I have to take other price hikes that people have to deal with into consideration.”

Luthuli said that tariff increases are part of the system but noted that technology has brought about renewable energy like solar. He emphasised that the municipality must adapt and accommodate this type of energy for the future.