Power struggle

Residents act over high electricity cost

‘We are paying BCM’s huge bill with Eskom. And the bill [to Eskom] is just getting higher’

HUNDREDS of Buffalo City residents took to Facebook to voice their frustration about the amount of money they are paying for electricity and are planning a march to city hall.

Beverley Lottering, Giovanni Redcliffe and a group of residents, are busy mobilising support for the march that has already seen more than 100 people agree to join.

Redcliffe said that he just started making people aware of the high price of electricity in the metro last month by starting a conversation in the Crime Spotter Buffalo City page on Facebook.

Soon people from around the country were putting up receipts of them having bought electricity in other cities – and comparing prices. It shows how BCM residents are paying more per kilowatt than Durban, Cape Town and a few other towns and cities around the country.

Different people from around the metro complained that electricity worth R100, which is 52 units, does not even last two days.

A post written by Lottering on August 4 has attracted more than 300 comments with people stating that BCM is ripping them off.

“Since July 1 we are now paying R1.91 for a unit of electricity. This is about 20c increase per unit. Well I don’t know, but since this increase I am using almost triple the amount of electricity that I used to use. I use a gas stove, do not use a heater and have one bath a day. I live in a two- bedroomed flat in the Quigney, so I do not have a pool or anything that can cause this sudden huge increase in my use of electricity. I have spoken to several people and they are all complaining. Can someone please explain,” Lottering said.

Stella Krouse, who also made a comment on the Facebook post said, the price we are paying for electricity is ridiculous. “There is only two people are home and we use approximately R1600 prepaid that excludes rates and water sewerage. It cannot continue climbing like this. There are people buying R50 and R100 in the informal settlements what is different? The difference we pay bonds. Why are some people more privileged than others.”

Buffalo City Metro spokesperson Sibusiso Cindi said tariffs increased as from July 1 and that the two identified purchases might be a “prior” and “post” tariff increase scenario, but this will need to be looked into when the complainant presents copies of his/her electricity purchase tokens.

“Our service providers must only charge the approved, applicable electricity tariff. In this case, if one service provider is charging our customers over and above the approved tariff rate, this matter will need to be investigated and appropriate actions taken against the vending agent,” Cindi said.

Outraged residents have gone as far as going around town and taking photos of illegal electrical connections and saying that is the reason ratepayers are paying more. “We are paying BCM’s huge bill with Eskom. And the bill [to Eskom] is just getting higher because no one is paying for those illegal connections, so us, the ratepayers, are footing the bill for that,” said an irate man who did not want to be named.

BCM residents are advised to look at their electricity tariff charge rate, compare it to the applicable BCM-approved electricity tariff rate and anything over and above the approved National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) tariff will need to be investigated and appropriate action taken against the landlord. For example, normal privately metered, single phase residential prepayment metered service should only be paying R1.9172, incl VAT, per kW consumed as per the 2016/17 Nersa-approved tariffs.

Cindi also said each customer’s usage patterns will be different. It depends on usage at the customer’s premises. Consumers are responsible for their own usage at their premises, Cindi said. Consumption is metered, therefore consumption multiplied by the tariff is cost (R300/R1. 9172 = 156 kW). – additional reporting ETHIENNE ARENDS


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