‘I won’t pay huge power bill’

2010-10-05 00:00

A LEGAL battle is looming between the Msunduzi Municipality and the city’s premier live music establishment.

Tosh Leander von Poncet, who manages the popular Red Door club in Quarry Road, said he got the shock of his life when the club received an electricity bill of R145 000 on September 17.

But that was not the end of it.

The club was then charged an additional R138 000 for having a three phase 300 amp industrial breaker when they had actually requested a 30 amp domestic breaker after taking over from the previous owner four years ago.

Leander von Poncet said the fault lies with the municipality as their workers should have ensured that the proper breaker was installed.

He said they are now being back-charged on the rate of the higher breaker even though they have not consumed industrial rated electricity.

“We are not prepared to pay for their incompetence. If I pay that bill, 20 people will be without a job. Me included,” said Leander von Poncet.

He said the city then told them they would reduce the amount by R17 000 “because they want us to pay”.

He said he does not understand why they did not discover this years ago as their consumption proves that they do not need the higher breaker and they have never been in arrears.

“If they insist on us paying we will have to shut down and Pietermaritzburg will have no live music venue … This matter will go to court,” he said.

Msunduzi’s acting marketing and public relations manager Brian Zuma said the consumer did not indicate the size of the amp breaker that was needed for business operations.

“The consumer was charged 1X30 amps when in fact the task team discovered 3X100 amps. The municipality has now back-charged [the establishment over a three-year period] at 270 amps because the consumer has had the use of these amps,” he said.

Zuma said the municipality’s decision to reduce the account by R17 000 was not regarded as a discount.

“… it is merely a preferential scale to suite the consumer … The bill was reduced by R17 000 because the municipality originally charged on a single phase whereas a three phase is slightly cheaper,” he said.

Zuma said the bill stands.

“However, [the establishment] may make arrangements to pay off the back charge over the same period of three years,” he said.



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