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Molefe: We need a 9.5% increase to keep the lights on

Eskom wants to implement a total increase of 25.3% until the end of the 2017/18 financial year.

FILE: Eskom Acting CEO Brian Molefe briefing the country on the utility's winter plan on 17 June 2015.

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom's Acting CEO Brian Molefe on Wednesday vowed to do whatever it takes not to harm South Africa's economy, whether or not they receive a tariff increase.

Molefe was giving his closing remarks at the end of two days of public hearings into Eskom's 25.3 percent electricity price hike.

Over 12 percent has already been approved and Molefe says they won't be pursuing a 2.5 percent environmental levy so what they're looking for is about 9.5 percent for the 2015/16 financial year to keep the lights on.

Molefe reiterated that load shedding costs six times more than what they're asking for to run the open cycle gas turbines which require diesel.

"A lot of people have spoken about the 25 percent increase and how it is not affordable, but very few people have spoken about the cost of load shedding."

This after two days of presentations from businesses and organisations that strongly oppose the tariff hike, saying South Africans simply cannot afford it.

Molefe says the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) must consider the affordability especially for the poor when making its decision.

But says Eskom is committed to stabilising the grid.

"Whatever happens, we are going to try and manage Eskom in a way that does not harm a South African economy."

Nersa is expected to make its decision by 29 June.

Meanwhile, Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has urged Nersa to consider the views of ordinary people before deciding whether or not to grant Eskom a tariff increase.

Cosatu's Dumisani Dakile says Eskom needs to find the funds elsewhere.

"The problem at Eskom is not about resources, but it's about management. We want to urge you, Nersa, that can you please before you make a determination in this matter, think of ordinary people and go and hear their views in relation to this."