As Executive Mayor of George Municipality, I am writing to you on behalf of the citizens of George, to object in the strongest possible terms to NERSA granting Eskom an increase in the price of electricity of 18,65% for the 2023/24 financial year.
This enormous price increase is unaffordable, unfair and unjust.
Our customers, inclusive of residents, small and medium businesses, simply cannot afford these continuous price increases that is once again well above that of the consumer price index (CPI). The majority of South Africans are already struggling to make ends meet.
Our communities are also struggling to keep businesses open with stage 6 blackouts being implemented by Eskom. On most days, communities are left without electricity for 8 – 10 hours per day and the situation is not expected to improve in the short term.
Eskom is proving to be unable to be a reliable supplier of electricity. NERSA as the regulator is seemingly unable to provide the necessary guidance and direction to ensure that Eskom fulfils its mandate. Eskom has been permitted to continue its mismanagement and practices of corruption for years. Further its Board of Directors has failed in its responsibilities in not ensuring that corrective action is taken to reduce the bloated workforce, collect its outstanding debtors, stop the purchasing of sub-standard coal, ensure an appropriate and financially sound equity structure, proper and timely maintenance of its generating facilities or support for its Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer.
It is therefore totally unfair and unjust for South Africans to be constantly expected to pay more for electricity while receiving less of it. Our residents will now be expected to pay even more exorbitant prices for electricity they simply do not get. South Africans are rightfully tired of having to foot the bill for years of corruption and mismanagement at Eskom.
Municipalities are expected to distribute electricity and maintain their networks, but this is becoming increasingly difficult as Eskom is clearly unable to supply electricity on a consistent 24-hour basis. As a result, municipal revenue from electricity is declining through lower sales of kilowatt-hours.
Any increase should be in line with the CPI. A 18,65% increase is outrageous and unjust, especially given the fact that we are experiencing the worst loadshedding on record.
In addition, Eskom provides no preference to its good customers who regularly pay their accounts, in terms of price increases or regular supply of electricity.
As a Municipality, we are continuing with our plans to mitigate the risks of the unreliable supply of electricity by having to secure alternative energy to protect our communities from Eskom’s load shedding. This includes the installation of solar PV plants and battery storage to supply our own infrastructure and to assist our business and domestic consumers. We are also undertaking wheeling transactions and encouraging independent power producers.
It is an extreme injustice to expect that ordinary citizens of George (and, indeed, residents of every municipality in the country) should be forced to bear the cost of Eskom’s inability to supply electricity and to fix its own problems. It is likely that the approved increase will be widely condemned, destroying chances of economic recovery in South Africa and adding to our burden of unemployment and poverty.
I trust that this letter will receive your urgent attention to reverse the price increase that has been granted.
Ald Leon van Wyk