Nersa urged to reject Eskom's application for electricity tariff increase

Representing the South African Faith Communities Environment, Mitchells Plain resident Lydia Petersen told the hearing that the electricity hike should not be allowed.

FILE: The Nersa panel listens to public comments on Eskom's request for tariff increases in Midrand on 24 February 2020. Picture: @NERSA_ZA/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - It's day two of the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa)'s public hearings on Eskom's proposed tariff increase of more than 20%.

On Monday, oral submissions were made in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape during a virtual sitting and it will continue on Tuesday with submissions out of KwaZulu-Natal.

Eskom has applied for an electricity price increase for the 2022/2023 financial year, which starts in April.

And while the power utility has defended its application, it has received widescale criticism.

Representing the South African Faith Communities Environment, Mitchells Plain resident Lydia Petersen told the hearing that the electricity hike should not be allowed.

"There are so many reasons to support our call for a no increase but I will draw attention to the most obvious and the devastating impact it will have on our vulnerable society," Petersen said.

She said that poorer communities were already struggling.

"Many households receive social grants, it is a continuous struggle to make ends meet and the social grant cannot feed an entire family with little or no money left for electricity and in some homes, electricity is deemed as a luxury to have," Petersen said.

In his submission on Monday, Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis called on Nersa not to underestimate the harsh economic realities of South Africans and that an electricity increase would be unfair.

Hill-Lewis reiterated the city's call to Nersa to reject Eskom's application.

He said that more than 30,600 Capetonians signed a petition published by the city on Friday calling on the energy regulator to refuse Eskom's application.

"It is very clear that the South African consumer, the South African family is under massive pressure and cannot absorb additional taxes and steep above-inflation tariff increases," Mayor Hill-Lewis said.

He said that South Africans simply could not afford it.

"The heart of our objection is simply the inability of the public at the moment to absorb any further massive increases in tariffs and costs. We all know and understand the incredible stresses that South African families have gone through as a result of the COVID pandemic and the lockdowns," he said.