Why increase electricity home user charge?

Bill Robson, Noordhoek

I recently had a bad experience trying to draw money from the Noordhoek Farm Village ATM when the power failed just at the moment when the machine was about to dispense my cash.

Subsequently I discovered that my account had been debited despite not receiving any cash.

It took several phone calls and emails before the bank finally reversed the amount after two weeks. The operators of the ATM claimed that there was an inverter/battery system in place, but it did not work, and, during a later power cut, I noticed that the ATM was dead.

So this is a warning to users to make sure either that the ATM really does have a reliable power supply or not to try and use it when a power cut may be imminent.

On a related subject, I notice on my rates account that the electricity availability charge, which they cleverly term “electricity home user charge”, has been increased from R213 to R252 including VAT, despite the greater frequency of power cuts, and therefore reduced availability.

There should rather be a reduction in this charge, until electricity becomes continuously available again, if ever.

Mayoral committee member for energy Beverley van Reenen responds:

The home user fixed charge is part of the overall tariff and was introduced a number of years ago.

It is there to cover the cost of providing the service. Whether one uses less or more electricity, it costs the metro the same to supply it.

The introduction of the fixed cost helps to ensure that the cost is distributed more equitably across the metro and also enables the City to keep the usage cost lower.

The cost has increased due to Eskom’s massive 18.5% tariff hike and accounts for more than 70% of the cost the City needs to cover.

The City managed to absorb as much of this hike as possible, with an increase of 17.6%, as we always try to keep increases as affordable as possible to our customers.

With the immense levels of load shedding and the increasing move to solar by more of our customers, the City’s income and customer mix have changed.

This means it is becoming increasingly difficult to cover the fixed costs of providing a reliable electricity service, especially as it is increasing.

The City plans to reduce its dependency on Eskom and to protect its customers from the first four stages of Eskom’s load shedding. To do this, we must ensure the sustainability of our income.

Residents are encouraged to limit purchases to below 600 kWh per month. This will help to manage costs and keep customers on lower tariff categories.

Relief is available to the indigent, pensioners and customers who are struggling, and residents are encouraged to visit our customer offices to find out if they qualify for relief.