THE recent messages and pronouncements coming out of council on the electricity increases in response to National Energy Regulator of South Africa’s (Nersa) rejection of Msunduzi Municipality’s application for a 10% increase on usage charges are confusing. On the one hand, a decrease on usage charges from 10% to seven percent suggests that electricity will be cheaper. On the other hand, an increase on the basic charges suggests that electricity will be more expensive. This article attempts to explore what is really going on with electricity charges in the city. On Tuesday, November 5, however, council passed increases on the basic charges for households. Basic charges are fixed and come into play before a light switch has been flicked on. Most poor and working class households live in small homes, have 20-30 amperage and use small volumes of electricity. These households fall within the “single phase up to 80 amp” category. Basic charges for these households will go up 54% or R9,50 — from R17,50 to R27. Wealthier households who live in big homes and use many appliances consume high volumes of electricity, 750 kWh+ per month. These households fall into the “three phase up to 100 amp” category and see their basic charges increased by 26,88% or R7,84 from R29,16 to R37.