South Africa’s energy regulator NERSA has published a proposal to increase municipal electricity tariffs by an average of 7.47 percent – without holding a public hearing.
The proposal is contained in a consultation paper published on NERSA’s website last week.
Municipal electricity tariff increase mooted
“Due to the limited time available for municipalities to develop their budgets based on the 2022/23 Guideline increase and benchmarks approved by NERSA, the Regulator will not hold a public hearing on the key issues highlighted in line with section 4(3) of the Promotion of Administration Justice Act, 2000 (Act No. 3 of 2000),” NERSA says in the paper.
“Instead, the Regulator will follow a process of notice and comment in order to ensure that the final guideline increase and benchmarks are published by 11 May 2022.”
The regulator has targeted 1 July 2022 as the date the proposed municipal tariff increase becomes effective.
The proposal is separate from the 9.61 percent increase NERSA approved for Eskom’s standard tariff customers in March. The Eskom increase became effective on 1 April 2022.
DA slams NERSA’s decision
DA MP Kevin Mileham said the decision “is at odds with the provisions of the NERSA Act and therefore illegal,” adding that the party will write to the regulator to demand that it honours its “obligations in terms of the NERSA Act.”
“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 added.
“Consumers are already struggling to keep the lights on at current electricity prices cost levels, yet NERSA thinks it is not important to canvass their views on another tariff increase.”
According to Mileham, municipalities have limited ability to absorb costs and cushion consumers against electricity price hikes. They will thus simply pass on additional costs to consumers.
“Consumers should not be punished for NERSA’s inability to get its house in order on the electricity price methodology. The DA will fight against any attempt to impose an above-inflationary electricity increase on consumers without public participation,” the opposition legislator concluded.