Activists proclaim 'new' Eskom management

2012-10-23 10:00
Environmental activists have protested at Eskom's headquarters, claiming Eskom management titles in a campaign to highlight the utility's electricity tariff application. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Environmental activists have protested at Eskom's headquarters, claiming Eskom management titles in a campaign to highlight the utility's electricity tariff application. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - Environmental activists have protested at Eskom's headquarters, claiming Eskom management titles in a campaign to highlight the utility's electricity tariff application.

Activists from Greenpeace dropped a banner at the Megawatt Park headquarters reading "Eskom: Under New Management" and others chained themselves to the front entrance of the building.

Eskom has applied to Nersa (the National Energy Regulator of SA) for a 16% a year tariff increase that will see a doubling of electricity prices by 2018.

"We are here today because Eskom has clearly failed the people of South Africa, and we are united in calling for a fundamental shift away from coal by Eskom," said groundWork director Bobby Peek.

Eskom CEO Brian Dames said that the utility faced a steep increase in the cost of coal which makes up the majority of its costs.

Eskom titles

Opposition political parties have also rejected the price increase application saying that it would have a devastating impact on poor households.

"By rejecting Eskom's ludicrous 16% a year increase, Nersa will be sparing millions of South African households," Congress of the People spokesperson Beryl Ferguson said.

"We will continue our calls for an alternative pricing model in which consumers and businesses are not made to pay for inefficient capital expenditure programmes by a monopolistic state-owned energy provider," said Democratic Alliance MP David Ross.

Activists assigned themselves Eskom titles as a tongue-in-cheek gesture that they plan to take over the management of the utility and pushed for more environmentally sustainable practices, especially in the management of water in electricity production.

"However, at the moment Eskom is holding our water resources hostage by burning coal to produce electricity - using staggering amounts of the scarce resource, and pushing this country to the brink of a water crisis," said Melita Steele, Greenpeace Africa's climate and energy campaigner, who took the title of Eskom spokesperson.

Eskom has come under fire for pushing ahead with its capital expansion programme and the utility plans to bring the Medupi power station online in 2013.

The Kusile plant, also to be built in Limpopo, is expected to reduce the need to run the expensive open cycle gas turbines.


"Whilst government pumps billions into developing new Eskom coal-fired power stations to power industry, community people’s health is increasingly affected by the toxic by-products of coal from industries. This happens during each step of the coal to energy lifecycle," said Peek, who took the title of Eskom CEO.

While domestic users have been paying more for electricity, confidential contracts that Eskom has with massive industrial users has come under scrutiny.

Domestic users in SA account for around 17% of consumption, while industry takes up 37.7% and mining 15%, according to the government gazette on electricity pricing policy of 2008.

"It is this country's most impoverished who have to pay the real costs of coal: Unaffordable, dirty electricity, while BHP Billiton still gets electricity below cost - and the poor have to subsidise Eskom's loss of R5.5bn," said Makoma Lekalakala of Earthlife Africa.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter
Read more on:    greenpeace  |  earthlife africa  |  eskom  |  renewable energy  |  environment

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