Civil organisations oppose Eskom’s request for electricity price hike

The power utility’s debt levels are continuing to soar and now stand at R419 billion.

FILE: Eskom's Megawatt Park offices in Sunninghill. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Civil society organisations have come out strongly against a request from Eskom for a double-digit tariff increase, saying already heavily burden consumers cannot be expected to bail out the utility time and time again.

On Monday, Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe told the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) that even if it is granted a 15% annual increase for three years, it would still not be enough to get it out of its debt trap.

Debt levels are continuing to soar and now stand at R419 billion.

But the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) and the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute (SAFCEI) say it's no good repeatedly saying yes to Eskom's price increase demands, only for the company to repeatedly make the same mistakes.

Hadebe says he's playing open cards with the public that the power utility is in deep financial trouble.

“Eskom is compelled to apologise to South Africans for having brought on the challenges it's facing.”

Outa's Ronald Chauke says the company's business model is just not working, while SAFCEI's Liz McDaid says people are reducing their electricity consumption because they simply can't afford it.

“[With] these continual price increases we think Eskom has already failed. What we seem to have is a black hole that is taking in money and dragging the country down.”

Energy analyst Ted Blom says Eskom's application for a price hike should be shelved until the board has presented its turnaround plan and the president's advisory team has compiled its report.

(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)