Pressure group Stop CoCT has welcomed the enquiry that is to be made by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) into the City of Cape Town’s electricity tariffs. Stop CoCT has continuously lodged several complaints with NERSA over the last year in relation to the tariffs and this has resulted in the energy regulator launching an enquiry. Stop CoCT said they have done extensive research on the structure of electricity costs in Cape Town and argues that the City is not structuring these costs in accordance with NERSA approved standards or average Eskom prices.
“We have done extensive research on the entire tariff structure. The City claims they are on par with other municipalities. However, if we look at the metros, the City is one of the only metros that implemented TWO surcharges on their tariff increases,” said Stop CoCT founder, Sandra Dickson.
“For the last year or so, Stop CoCT has been lodging various complaints at NERSA, at various stages. Finally, we got NERSA’s ear.
They replied about three weeks ago, asking us for more information – which we supplied. Subsequently, we were notified that they launched an inquiry into what the City of Cape Town is doing.”
Dickson said they now need to wait for NERSA to complete the inquiry.
“We are putting maximum pressure on NERSA. The one problem we do have is that according to the law, tariffs can only be changed once a year. However, the minister [of Mineral Resources and Energy] can intervene and allow NERSA to allow the City of Cape Town to adjust their tariffs.
The other option is, if it is proven that the City has violated the NERSA approved tariffs, we are talking about the City misleading the public entirely…They are basically flouting what NERSA told them to do and legally I think that can be tested if need be.”
Stop CoCT has argued that the City of Cape Town is exploiting the poorest of the poor.
“If we look at how the City is treating our Lifeline, which is used by the poorest of the poor, it is probably one of the worst in the country because the Lifeline people get the Lifeline tariff which is R1.20 cents up to 350 units and thereafter they pay R2.42 cents per unit…I have it on record that the chairman of Eskom said they are selling their electricity at an average rate of 90 cents per unit…So, how does the City get from 90 cents to R2.42 for the poorest of the poor?”
The Lifeline electricity tariff is intended to be a subsidised electricity tariff that provides support to low-income households who cannot afford to pay the same amounts for electricity as higher-income households.
“The approved tariffs by NERSA are lower than the tariffs that the City of Cape Town implemented. The tariffs in the City range from six percent to fifteen percent higher than what NERSA actually approved.”