Electricity tariffs Eskom

Electricity increases will badly hurt the poor, say community leaders, residents

Electricity increases will badly hurt the poor, say community leaders, residents <www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/electricity-increases-would-badly-hurt-the-poor-say-community-leaders-residents-2019-01-15/rep_id:4136> *Photo by* Creamer Media
BY: KIM CLOETE <www.engineeringnews.co.za/author.php?u_id=1132> CREAMER MEDIA CORRESPONDENT
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Community and faith leaders, as well as pensioners and residents, have called on the National Energy <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/energy> Regulator of South Africa <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/south-africa-region> (Nersa) to oppose Eskom <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/eskom>’s request for a tariff hike, with a projected overall increase of 45% to 2021.
“If granted, this price increase will severely impact on all consumers of electricity <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/electricity> across the country, many of whom are already struggling to pay their daily bills,” said the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/southern-african-faith-communities-environment-institute-facility>(Safcei) in its submission. ADVERTISEMENT <www.engineeringnews.co.za/adcentre/rv/en/www/delivery/ck.php?oaparams=2__bannerid=2761__zoneid=420__OXLCA=1__cb=64b796593e__oadest=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.concor.co.za>
Eskom <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/eskom> has presented its case at public hearings in Cape Town <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/cape-town>this week. This follows its application to Nersa last year for a 15% tariff increase each year for the next three years. The struggling utility has also applied to the regulator to recover losses made in the 2016/17 year.
Safcei’s Eco-Justice lead *Liz McDaid <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/liz-mcdaid>* said people were already battling to afford to pay for electricity <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/electricity>. ADVERTISEMENT <www.engineeringnews.co.za/adcentre/rv/en/www/delivery/ck.php?oaparams=2__bannerid=4749__zoneid=647__cb=196016dd6b__oadest=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.gges.co.za>
“I know of households where the electric stove is now an ornament. People are using kettles to boil water <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/water>, or are using paraffin to cook,” she told the Nersa panel.
Her sentiments were echoed by residents from communities in and around Cape Town <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/cape-town>.
“The increase from Eskom <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/eskom> will have a negative impact on the poorest of the poor. The standard of living will be worsened. The cost of living will be unbearable,” said *Joyce Malebu <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/joyce-malebu>*, a pensioner from Gugulethu, who said R20 was not enough to power <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/power> a fridge, stove and lights for more than two hours.
Community members said many pensioners spent much of their grant money on electricity <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/electricity>.
Community and faith-based organisations and individuals believe communities should not have to bear the brunt of energy <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/energy> increases every year.
“We think Eskom <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/eskom> has failed the majority of South Africans. We don’t have an energy <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/energy> utility that enables the economy. We have a black hole that is taking in money and slowly dragging the country down,” said McDaid, who is well known for working with fellow grassroots activist *Makoma Lekalakala <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/makoma-lekalakala>* to stop the South African government’s nuclear <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/nuclear>deal with Russia <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/russia>.
Together with other organisations, Safcei has raised the need to restructure Eskom <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/eskom> in sync with a global shift towards renewable energy <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/renewable-energy>.
“We feel Eskom <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/eskom> is already stranded in terms of a utility in the world going forward in energy <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/energy>. It is out of alignment and something drastic is needed,” said McDaid.
She said Eskom <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/eskom> should not rely so heavily on boosting electricity <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/electricity> sales, which have slowed down within municipalities and industry.
Safcei has called on Eskom <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/eskom> to analyse Eskom <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/eskom> data comparing renewables and coal <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/coal>. “Where you have inefficient and polluting power <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/power> stations, they need to be closed.”
It has called for a just transition for coal <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/coal> workers, as well as moves to integrate storage <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/storage> into the grid.
The public hearings will continue in Port <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/port> Elizabeth on Wednesday, and onwards to Durban <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/durban> later in the week. Hearings will also be held in Bloemfontein <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/bloemfontein>, Nelspruit <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/nelspruit>, Rustenburg <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/rustenburg> and Soweto <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/soweto> and will end in Midrand on February 4. The January 21 hearings that had been scheduled for Kimberley <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/kimberley> and Polokwane <www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/polokwane> have been cancelled due to low public interest in presenting, Nersa said in a statement.

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