Opponents creating false narrative around tariff increases – City of Cape Town

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Cape Town – While the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) probes the City for its tariff increases and structure, the City has blamed its fiercest critic, STOP COCT, for creating a false narrative around tariff increases.

Mayor Dan Plato said: “It is interesting that they have not lobbied Eskom directly about their 15.6% increase and the impact of which the City has tried to minimise for our residents, by only increasing our tariffs by 8.88%.

“The organisation has unfortunately contributed to a false narrative about the City’s tariffs.”

Plato said there is a perception that the City had been milking residents through imposing high tariffs. “This is a perception that is being fuelled by certain groups that established themselves as lobby groups during the drought crisis. The City compares well to other metros, with costs being lower in many instances,” he said.

For 2019/20, 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.

On Friday, Nersa announced that it would be investigating the City’s tariff structure and electricity increases.

Nersa’s probe comes after it received a number of complaints from the public.

“The City has not received formal notification from Nersa, but given the tariff issues in Tshwane and Johannesburg City Power, the City recognises that Nersa would want to do a general investigation into municipal tariff structures.

“Nersa has approved the majority of the City’s 2019/20 tariffs so it is unclear why an investigation into the City of Cape Town’s 2019/20 tariffs would take place,” Plato said.

James-Brent Styan, spokesperson for Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell, said: “ The MEC understands that the National Energy Regulator is investigating and accordingly the MEC will await the outcome of the Nersa investigation before providing further comment.”

The investigation has been welcomed by a number of resident and ratepayer associations which have long spoken against the steep tariff increases.

STOP COCT’s Sandra Dickson has hit back at Plato, accusing him of not being transparent with the public.

“The City has to explain why the tariffs they implemented on 1 July, 2019 are higher than what Nersa approved.” STOP COCT challenges the City to sit around a table and to provide answers to the many questions the public have around the electricity tariffs.

“STOP COCT has sent a number of emails to the City Finance department for explanations.

“However, very few emails get answered. It therefore leaves STOP COCT to work with the limited documentation the City does provide,” Dickson said.