Keeping electricity affordable
Even though the 2011 census shows that 84.7% of formal households in South Africa are connected to the grid, the rising cost of electricity still marginalises the poorest in the country. As the price of electricity rises, marginalised communities are forced to use polluting fuels. Eskom’s electricity tariffs have increased on average by about 3.78 times between 2001 and 2011. But the average household income of black South Africans only increased by 2.7 times over the same period. We need more progressive electricity tariff structures, incentives and appropriate metering in municipal electricity distribution. If electricity planning doesn’t include ways to keep power affordable, the country will undermine its development goals.
Additionally, investing in utility-scale, expensive, centralised electricity supply plants will lock the country into an increasingly outmoded, inefficient electricity system. Use of renewable energy is cheaper, so we need less electricity price increases if we take the SMART approach.