MCB, basic charges still 10% higher

2013-10-18 00:00

THERE will be little relief for Pietermaritzburg residents when they are finally credited for being overcharged on their electricity bills, as fixed charges will remain at the 10% hike.

The municipality is not going to lower the increase on the Main Circuit Breaker (MCB) and basic electricity charges.

The municipality indicated yesterday that although it was forced by the National Electricity Regulator of SA (Nersa) to reduce its amperage usage hike from 10% to seven percent, the MCB and basic electricity charge increases would remain at 10%. Together, these two amounts constitute 43% — almost half — of electricity bills.

Municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi said that Nersa only regulated usage charges and its mandate did not cover MCB and basic charge increases.

DA councillor Mergan Chetty argued that it was unfair to residents to increase the fixed charges by 10% because the tariff increase was represented as a bundle.

He said the MCB charge was not indicated as a separate tariff increase in pre-budget presentations and should not be separated now.

He reminded the council that the MCB charge was a thorny issue with residents, and that the Pieter­maritzburg Chamber of Business was particularly critical of this fee.

Mayor Chris Ndlela responded that any increase in payment would invite a negative reaction.

“If you go out and buy a slice of bread and there is a price increase, it is going to raise anger. Nersa has ruled on what it considers should be decreased — the usage charge.

“Its jurisdiction does not extend to the other charges,” he said.

Councillor Jabu Ngubo said exco needed to consider the impact on service delivery caused by a reduced budget.

She said a smaller budget meant less money for service delivery and told Chetty that the very same people he claimed to be fighting for “will come and fight us for a lack of service delivery”.

It was also clarified yesterday that residents were charged the 10% tariff hike on electricity usage for three months — July, August and September.

Nkosi said a proposal on how customers would be credited their rebates would be presented at the next council meeting.

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