The DA has slammed the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) for proposing an electricity price increase without holding public hearings.
Nersa is proposing an average increase of 7.47% for municipal electricity tariffs from July 1.
The proposal comes after Nersa approved a 9.6% tariff increase for Eskom customers which took effect on April 1 and an 8.61% increase for municipalities.
Nersa said the July 1 implementation date for municipalities is in accordance with the requirements of the Municipal Finance Management Act 2003.
The DA said the decision by Nersa to not hold public hearings on the proposed municipal electricity tariff increase is at odds with the provisions of the regulator act and therefore illegal.
“Due to the limited ability of municipalities to absorb costs and cushion consumers against electricity tariff increases, the costs will be passed on to the consumer,” said the party’s shadow minister of mineral resources and energy, Kevin Mileham.
“It is simply unacceptable for tariffs hikes to be imposed on consumers without any public hearings. A cloak-and-dagger operation, carried out without the input of those who would be most affected, is simply not right.”
Mileham said consumers should not be punished for Nersa’s inability to get its house in order on the electricity price methodology.
“By foregoing a public participation process on the municipal tariff increase, Nersa is denying residents and municipalities an opportunity for a procedurally fair process to air their views on this increase,” he said.
“Consumers are already struggling to keep the lights on, yet Nersa thinks it is not important to canvass their views on another tariff increase.
“The DA will fight against any attempt to impose an above-inflationary electricity increase on consumers without public participation.”
Last week, Deputy President David Mabuza said Eskom was starting to show a “positive outlook”, partly due to decisive interventions by the government, including putting pressure on national departments and municipalities to settle outstanding debts to the electricity utility.
“Eskom is starting to show a positive outlook, of course with the cushion of government. All national government departments have paid [what they owed Eskom], co-ordinated by the minister of public works [Patricia de Lille]. We are encouraging municipalities to allow Eskom to collect money that is due,” he said during a question-and-answer session in parliament.
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