Eskom tariff hike will 'spell disaster' for agricultural sector

WC farmers will pay around R894m annually for electricity & may look at alternative energy sources.

FILE: Nersa is expected to decide on Eskom's application next month. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Agri Western Cape says a 16 percent electricity tariff increase will force the agriculture sector to look at alternative energy sources.

Farmers across the province pay around R894 million annually for electricity.

That figure will increase by over R140 million should the power utility's application to recoup billions of rand be approved by the National Energy Regulator (Nersa).

Agri's CEO Carl Opperman says a tariff increase could spell disaster for the agriculture sector.

"We cannot afford these increases, not with the drought and the economic climate that we're sitting in at the moment."

Opperman says Eskom would be negatively affected as well.

"They are opening it for alternative products and alternative energy to fill this gap and this is going to make them totally irrelevant."

Nersa is expected to decide on Eskom's application next month.

'PAY BACK THE MONEY'

The Democratic Alliance (DA) says it wants Eskom's top executives to pay back bonuses that have been paid out since 2008, the year South Africa experienced load shedding for the first time.

The party says R73 million has been paid in bonuses, saying it's an exorbitant amount considering how unreliable electricity supply is.

The DA's Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises Natasha Mazzone says this is not feasible for the consumer.

"If one takes into account the drought situation, the increase in food prices and a possible increase in electricity it's going to hit the consumer incredibly hard. If the utility is asking for a 16,6 percent increase, charity begins at home and what you do is ensure that no bonuses are paid out."