OUTA takes legal action against Eskom

By Danielle van Wyk

After failing to get the National Energy Regulator (NERSA) to tell the public why it is allowing Eskom’s 9.4 % electricity tariff increase, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) has decided to take legal action against Eskom.

“The organisation has been left with no choice but to approach the North Gauteng High Court in an attempt to obtain an interdict against the implementation of the increase on the 1st of April 2016,” stated OUTA.

At present, the tariff increase will come into effect from 1 April. While municipal increases will be implemented as of 1 July.

OUTA’s concerns

OUTA’s concerns stem from the notion that NERSA has ‘declined to provide details around their decision that gave rise to the implementation of the higher tariff.’

“In their response to OUTA, NERSA cited possible “confidential” information which it must first clear with Eskom, before they are allowed to release parts of the information to the public,” accounted OUTA.

These answers will only in all likelihood come to the fore well after the electricity tariff increases have been implemented. This, according to OUTA, impeaches the public’s opportunity to assess and comment on the validity of the reasons for their decision.

“This casts doubt on the legitimacy of the entire public participation process of the RCA hearings, and it is OUTA’s view that the tariff hike should be challenged before being implemented on the 1st of April 2016,” added OUTA.

“As matters stand now, we will be in court on the 31st of March for the application for an interdict to be heard. We have concerns regarding the lack of transparency and manner in which NERSA arrived at their decision to approve the tariff. We simply had to react and challenge NERSA’s approval of the increase, and Eskom’s implementation thereof, whilst the public is being left in the dark as to why this has been approved,” explained Ivan Herselman, director of Legal Affairs at OUTA.

In the event that OUTA succeeds with the interdict, Eskom will be banned from implementing the electricity tariff increase, until NERSA provides OUTA and the public with sufficient reasoning for their decision. 

“Additionally, the organisation needs to be afforded an opportunity to challenge the decision and set it aside,” concluded Herselman.

Eskom seem unthreatened by the organisations legal undertakings according to other media reports. However, it failed to respond to request for comment at the time of publication.

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