Several municipalities, including the City of Johannesburg and Midvaal, have asked the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) to approve electricity tariff increases above the regulator’s increase guideline of 11,03%.
This is contrary to the government’s efforts to keep the price of electricity down. The government has even gone to the extent of pressing Eskom to reduce its already approved tariff increase for the 2012-13 financial year from 25,9% to 16%.
The Energy Intensive User Group and Business Unity SA have also warned that high electricity tariffs stifle economic growth and job creation.
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Nersa will today hold public hearings on applications by eight municipalities to be allowed to raise electricity tariffs by more than 11,03%.
The Midvaal municipality wants tariffs for business customers to increase by 25,04%. Its mayor Tim Nast said yesterday the increase would not affect residential customers, but the municipality was correcting its "undercharging" of business customers.
City Power, the City of Johannesburg’s power utility, has asked for a tariff hike of 14%. Spokesman Louis Pieterse said the rise was needed to invest in distribution and transmission assets.
Other municipalities that have asked for higher increases are Gamagara in the Northern Cape (23,83%), Lesedi in Gauteng (20%), Mthonjaneni in KwaZulu-Natal (18%), Nkomazi in Mpumalanga (15%) and Hessequa in the Western Cape (11,5%).
Regulator spokesman Charles Hlebela said yesterday that Nersa required municipalities wanting to raise tariffs beyond its guidelines to motivate such action.
"After the public hearings, the energy regulator will consider the reasons given by the municipalities and determine if the requested tariffs will be granted," Mr Hlebela said.