Nersa instructs Eskom to clarify fraud allegation

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The National Energy Regulator (Nersa) has asked Eskom to make public information around investigations into possible allegations of fraud, corruption and mismanagement at the power utility.

The second day of public hearings into Eskom’s 15%  a year tariff hike application concluded in Cape Town on Tuesday with various community representatives rejecting any increase in the price of electricity.

Rural and poor communities say cash-strapped consumers can hardly make ends meet. Many are unemployed or dependent on social grants. Concern has also been raised about the environmental impact of coal-powered electricity.

“There’s a very high reliance on coal. 97% of our electricity comes from coal mines, which means there’s a problem. In the light of climate change, it’s affecting our very existence so how can we still rely on toxic energy sources while we have God-given sun and wind to utilise for our energy,” says Wendy Pekeur from Ubuntu Rural Women and Youth Movement.

“We as the community will not supply them with money that they maladministrate. There are huge amounts that went missing so why must we as the consumer start paying for their sins; we are not going to allow that,” says Project 90 By 2030’s Lydia Petersen.

Nersa says Eskom owes the public an update into its internal fraud and corruption investigations.

“One of the major issues pointed out by Eskom at that stage was the issue of mismanagement and possible corruption in relation to coal procurement, that was the information that Eskom provided during the hearings in Midrand last year in may so we are saying that it would be fair that they present the details but withhold sensitive information obviously but it will be fair that the public be informed what is happening and what is the tattoos o such investigations,” says Nersa panel chairperson, Nomfundo Maseti.

Eskom, meanwhile says it agrees that the poor should be shielded by rising energy costs.

“We do say that the average price of electricity needs to be separated from protection of vulnerable sectors and the poor is one of the key vulnerable sectors, so we completely support that there needs to be protection of the poor, but there might need to be changes and that’s where Nersa and the department of energy needs to provide guidance and Eskom will be the implemented,” says Eskom’s Regulations GM’s Hasha Tlhotlhalemaje.

Nersa has requested an Economic Impact Analysis from Eskom to determine the impact of a tariff increase on consumers, business and the economy. Public hearings will take place in Port Elizabeth and Durban this week.