For the sake of the consumer, NERSA must give an undertaking on power tariffs, says AfriForum

AfriForum has by way of its legal team requested the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) give an undertaking in the interest of electricity consumers that it will comply with the recent court order on municipal electricity tariff increases until its appeal against the order is concluded. If NERSA does not make such an undertaking and continue to allow municipalities without cost studies to charge the new higher electricity rates, the civil rights organisation will bring an application in the High Court in Pretoria to compel NERSA to comply with the original court order pending the outcome of its appeal application. NERSA has until Friday (5 July) to respond to AfriForum’s request.

AfriForum achieved a huge victory in court on 28 June after there was ruled in its favour in the unlawful approval of electricity tariff increases for the 2024/2025 financial year. The court declared NERSA’s decision to consider applications for electricity tariff increases without the required cost studies to be unlawful and invalid. NERSA was told by the court not to consider any applications for electricity tariff increases, provided the relevant licensed electricity distributors submitted a cost study. However, the regulator went ahead and approved 178 municipalities’ applications, even though not all of these municipalities submitted the required cost studies. NERSA has meanwhile submitted an application for leave to appeal against this order, which means that since Monday (1 July) municipalities have been charging the new electricity tariff increases on their residents’ power consumption.

Morné Mostert, manager of Local Government Affairs at AfriForum, says that this court case was conducted in the interest of consumers to promote fairness and transparency in the approval of municipal electricity tariffs. It is therefore in the interest of electricity consumers that the court order, which was heard on an urgent basis, remains in force until NERSA’s appeal proceedings have been concluded.

“NERSA is causing an administrative nightmare rather than fulfilling its legal obligations and protecting consumers. This will place a great burden on legitimate power distributors such as municipalities to compensate consumers for the higher electricity tariffs they’ve been charging is NERSA’s appeal application fails,” says Mostert.

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