MPs come down hard on Eskom’s 16% increase

2012-11-29 00:00

POWER utility Eskom came under heavy criticism from members of the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature yesterday during its presentation on proposed electricity tariff hikes.

Eskom wants to impose a 16% tariff hike every year for the next five years, beginning in April next year. It has asked the National Energy Regulator of South Africa to approve the hike.

The members said they were not convinced the price increase was justified and would therefore find it difficult to convince their constituencies.

ANC MPL Priscilla McKay said: “I hope the ANC does not send me to sell this to my constituency because I am not convinced. Then, how can the public be convinced?”

Eskom representative Wiets Botes said that the power utility’s application for a tariff increase was to cover the cost of supplying the electricity needed to power South Africa and invest in the future.

He said the proposed five-year price plan would serve to smooth the impact and provide certainty. Of the proposed 16% increase, three percent is expected to subsidise the new independent power suppliers.

However, the MPLs were unconvinced and they pulled Botes’s presentation apart, to the extent that he privately remarked at the end of the briefing, “I am glad this is over”.

MPLs across party lines were annoyed that public participation meeting on the matter will be held in the ICC, away from the poor mostly affected by the tariff hike.

The company was partnering with independent producers and expecting the public to pay, and they continued to rely heavily on coal, which made up 56% of the total primary energy cost, without looking at other alternative sources of energy.

They said the tariffs would make electricity unaffordable.

George Maré of the DA said Eskom’s plan to charge consumers more was unsound. “This will just increase the theft of electrify as more people will resort to stealing electricity.”

The DA’s Johann Krog said Eskom did not take into account the impact on small businesses of the hikes. “This is destroying small businesses that cannot cope with the dramatic increases from Eskom.”

Inkosi Bonga Mdletshe of the IFP said electricity supply in the rural areas was unreliable. “Why would community members pay more for a service they were essentially not getting from the company?”

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