The National Energy Regulator of SA (NERSA) began a series of nationwide public hearings on what South Africans will be paying for electricity on Monday.
Eskom is requesting an additional 15% tariff increase for the next three financial years, amounting to a 45% price hike for consumers.
NERSA is mandated to determine Eskom’s electricity prices, consistent with the South African Constitution and in the public interest.
Over the course of three weeks, Nersa will hold hearings on the power utility’s proposed charges.
Civil societies also attended the first day of the meeting. More than 16 presentations took place today along with 16 requests for comment.
Eskom said at the hearings in Cape Town that although it has implemented cost cutting measures, it has not been enough to solve its balance sheet problems.
The power utility’s debt has increased from R380bn in 2018 to R419bn.
“We are aware that requesting a 15% yearly increase does seem steep, but Eskom’s financials have reached a crisis and we cannot solve this,” said Eskom’s group CEO Phakamani Hadebe.
OUTA’s Portfolio Manager on Energy Ronald Chauke said the public should not have to pay the price for Eskom’s corruption and poor leadership.
“At best, we propose that NERSA should not allow Eskom to exceed CPI, which is around the 5% mark, but instead, Eskom should find savings by reducing the headcount and staff costs, along with returning to lower primary energy costs by undoing the inflated and often corrupt contracts entered into during the Jacob Zuma era,” said Chauke.
Stop COCT founder Sandra Dickson also urged Capetonians to speak at the event, to “let Nersa see that Capetonians mean to support the objections against such hefty increases”.
“The 2018 Eskom increase was much higher by the time it reached the citizens of Cape Town as the City of Cape Town added its cut. It is therefore expected that the annual increase will end up being more than 20% a year by the time it reaches the public,” Dickson said.
Members of the public are encouraged to participate in the hearings which will take place in Cape Town today, from 09h00-17h00 at the Southern Sun Cape Sun, 23 Strand Street.
The regulator is expected to announce its decision on March 1st.
VOC/ Tauhierah Salie