Stricter policies to govern electricity prices

By Staff Writer
By Hennie Pretorius, journalist, Justmoney
 
 
Some electricity resellers have been overcharging consumers when they come to purchase electricity – it has been claimed. The problem has garnered the attention of a top executive at the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa).
 
According to reports Thembani Bukula, regulatory member of Nersa, called for standardisation in the electricity tariff which electricity resellers need to adhere to. He hopes this measure will prevent consumers from being overcharged.
 
Resellers are authorised to recover electricity costs on behalf of municipalities from tenants in the commercial property sector such as shopping centres, sectional title owners (town house complexes) as well as the industrial sector. It is illegal for a reseller to charge more for electricity than Eskom or municipalities.
 
Complaints were being lodged with Nersa. In one example a body corporate was controlling the resale of electricity to those living in a complex and charging inflated electricity prices.
 
Currently there are 2400 different tariff structures in South Africa, “too many” as pointed out by Bukula. These tariffs are area specific.
 
The new tariff structure as proposed by Bukula will allow resellers to purchase electricity at lower rates, enabling them to sell electricity at the same price as Eskom and local municipalities.
 
Online vendors deny overcharging
Syntell has created Paycity, an online payment portal where consumers can purchase pre-paid electricity.
 
Danealle Petersen of Syntell points out that if you are unsure of what you should be charged you should speak to the council or municipality in your area.
 
“The best people to speak to would be your local council/municipality as they generate your tokens/units for the meter boxes. We are just the service provider and don't work with generating the units.”
 
The City of Cape Town formulates electricity tariffs in line with Nersa’s guidelines as well as the local government municipal systems act and municipal finance management act.
 
Prepaid electricity provider, myPrepaid, also offers consumers an online option to buy electricity.
 
The transaction request is sent to the relevant municipality who processes a token based on a daily rate as set by the municipality.
 
A daily fee and block tariff are charged regardless of where you purchase the electricity. An invoice is sent to myPrepaid who forwards it to the consumer. According to myPrepaid, they do not add any additional costs or fees.
 
Eskom is not willing to comment regarding resellers and the tariff structure. They have stated that Nersa is taking the lead to “tackle” the issue.
 
Justmoney says 
The new rules are not set to help consumers just yet. According to a Fin24 report, Bukula said that these changes will only come into effect at the end of this year (2014). In the interim electricity consumers should keep vigilant and inform themselves about the tariffs that they should be paying.
 
If you believe a vendor or reseller is overcharging you, report them to Nersa on their anti-corruption hotline 08600 66 85 40 or email fraud@kpmg.co.za.

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