Trade union Solidarity today urged the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) to protect the public from further exploitation by Eskom, and to put workable plans in place that will alleviate the energy crisis. Solidarity was invited to share its thoughts at a Nersa public hearing held in Johannesburg today on Eskom’s application for a 25,3% tariff increase.
According to Deon Reyneke, Head of Solidarity’s Energy Industry, the time has now come for Eskom to take responsibility for its own problems. “Eskom should pay attention to the countless suggestions from the public on dealing with the current electricity crisis. Numerous workable solutions for Eskom’s problems, which could ultimately relieve the crisis, have been mooted. Making the public pay more for electricity, is not one of them,” Reyneke said.
“Never before has there been such fierce reaction against a planned energy tariff hike. The public, including industries and labour, are fed-up,” Reyneke added.
Piet le Roux, Head of the Solidarity Research Institute, said the fundamental problem is that Eskom currently has a monopoly on the supply of power which hampers healthy competition and leads to unnatural price hikes.
“When Nersa announces a new tariff, it leaves the South African public with no other choice but to accept the deal: if they want electricity, they have to accept it. The result of the monopolistic structure of electricity supply in South Africa is that it has become virtually impossible to supply electricity competitively,” Le Roux said.
Furthermore, Le Roux added, the solution to Eskom’s financial problems is not an increase in electricity tariffs. “Eskom is enriching a handful of individuals by allocating excessively expensive contracts to them in the name of Black Economic Empowerment instead of supplying electricity as cheaply and effectively as possible,” Le Roux said.
“Solidarity maintains that people in South Africa should not be made to pay for Eskom’s seeming inability to negotiate fair contracts with its suppliers,” he added.
Nersa will announce the new tariff increases on Monday 29 June 2015.