Cape Town – Eskom must not be allowed to hold South Africa hostage with its “pay-up or face load shedding narrative”, an opposition leader told energy regulators on Wednesday.
Democratic Alliance MP and shadow minister of energy Gordon Mackay told the public hearings in Johannesburg that Eskom should not receive a tariff increase.
The National Energy Regulator (Nersa) is holding public hearings ahead of its decision at the end of the month, when it will determine whether Eskom should receive an additional 9.58% tariff increase to fund programmes that will ease the impact of load shedding.
The hearings have heard pro-tariff increase presentations by Eskom acting CEO Brian Molefe, as well as countless anti-tariff presentations by energy experts and industry bodies affected by a possible increase.
“… Molefe is holding a gun to the South African consumers’ heads by giving them a choice between increased tariffs or daily load shedding,” said Mackay. “This is a false choice given the vast mismanagement taking place at Eskom.”
Mackay said Nersa should “send a clear message to Eskom that enough is enough”.
“Eskom cannot continue to rely on state bailouts and exorbitant tariff increases to fund its continued mismanagement.
“After two days of public hearings it is clear that there is an overwhelming consensus among businesses, the public and civil society that tariff increases are not welcome and will place an unfair burden on consumers.
“The price of electricity has doubled since 2009 with tariffs rising with an average of 20% per year since 2008. Inflation over the same period has averaged out at less than 6%. Tariff increases are hurting ordinary South Africans and doing great damage to our economy.”
Nersa could bring reform at Eskom
Mackay said Nersa could bring reform at Eskom by denying its latest request.
“It is only through allowing private sector equity in Eskom, and the introduction of competition into the energy sector, that South Africa will be able to achieve a stable supply of electricity and long-term price certainty,” he said.
“The driving force behind the request for tariff increases is the delay in completing Medupi and Kusile that is forcing Eskom to make use of expensive diesel-fuelled turbines to minimise load shedding.
“During the first 100 days of 2015, South Africa experienced 33 days of load shedding,” he said.
“Load shedding is killing jobs and constraining economic growth. Increasing the price of electricity will only serve to worsen the economic crisis and increase the cost of living for those who are already suffering.”