Nersa probes City of Cape Town’s power tariffs

Cape Town – The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) is investigating the City of Cape Town’s electricity tariff increase and its tariff structure.

Nersa spokesperson Charles Hlebela confirmed the investigation, which was launched after an outcry by ratepayers.

“Nersa received numerous complaints regarding the City of Cape Town’s electricity tariffs and is looking into the matter.”

The move has been welcomed by civic organisation Stop Coct, which had called for a public hearing by Nersa into electricity tariff increases, which saw some property owners, paying increases of up to 30%, more than the set 8.8%.

The city’s tariff increases and surcharge, which came into effect from July 1, sparked outrage among already financially overburdened residents.

Stop Coct spokesperson Sandra Dickson said it appeared that over the last four years the City had been implementing tariff increases which were higher than those recommended by Nersa.

For 2019/2020 Nersa approved an average increase of 13.07% for municipalities and the City of Cape Town had applied for a 11.30 % increase.

It announced in its budget that it would keep the electricity tariff increase at 8.8% for the current financial year.

But Dickson said the increase was “technically a lie” as some residents were paying more for their electricity purchases and consumption.

In addition to the tariff increase, some residents also paid a surcharge of R163.50 if their properties were valued at more than R1 million as well as a flat rate of 10%.

It also stopped giving free electricity units to customers whose monthly usage of electricity per month was more than 450 units over a period of 12 months.

Customers on a “lifeline” who used more than 350 units were purchasing electricity at a rate of R2.4214 per kilowatt hour – the same as homeowners who consumed more than 600 units.

The tariff increases saw several campaigns in an attempt to put pressure on the city to rethink its decision and for provincial premier Alan Winde as well as Nersa to intervene.