On Thursday 12 January 2023, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) delivered another devastating blow when it granted Eskom’s request to, once again, increase its tariffs well-above the rate of inflation. The Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) says, “The price hike of 18.65% for Eskom, despite its inability to supply energy – the country now regularly experiences stage 6 loadshedding – is just another poor decision in a series of poor decision-making from government. Eskom should not be allowed to do above inflationary increases to consumers who are being taxed both in terms of the unreliable and insufficient energy supply as well as the cost of the energy.”
According to SAFCEI’s Executive Director Francesca de Gasparis, “Another critical example of these poor decisions, which not only impacts our current situation, but which will also present further problems for electricity supply and affordability in the future, is Eskom’s insistence to extend the life of the aging Koeberg Nuclear Power Station. The cost to the consumer to extend the life of Koeberg far outweighs the benefits that we will see from it. Nuclear is not only outdated and unsafe but Koeberg has been seen to be an unstable, unreliable, and expensive energy source. There is no reason to extend its lifespan.”
“What we should be seeing instead is an increase in renewable energy investment, which is affordable, quick to install and to bring onto the grid. This would really allow us to build momentum to tackle our energy crisis. Instead, the South African government is choosing to look backwards instead of forwards by investing in an unreliable energy system.” adds de Gasparis.
She says that South Africans should be very concerned about the latest news that the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe will take over responsibility of Eskom. Minister Mantashe has made it very clear that renewable energy is not a priority while he continues to push for gas and nuclear energy expansion. Neither of these energy sources can be considered part of a just energy transition and should not even be on the table of government planning. If South Africa had an overall Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) – which is part of the legislation in terms of the National Energy Act – there would be a clear plan that would address energy needs of the country.”
Lydia Petersen from Mitchells Plain says, “While Eskom continues to waste money attempting to extend the life of Koeberg, it is not fair that the consumer is asked to cover this. One example of this waste is the R1-billion claim made by Framatome – the French nuclear company responsible for the refurbishment – in early 2022. This relates to a failure by Eskom and Nersa to ensure that a building to house the old steam generators was ready within the specified timeframe.”
According to Ricardo Swanepoel, a Rastafarian from Helenvale Gqeberha, “We have seen the steady increase in loadshedding stages with constant maintenance and fuel shortage challenges always touted as the main contributing factors. However, the reality is that Eskom is in a state of disaster and should be treated as such! The presidency should declare South Africa’s power situation as the national crisis it is and should allocate emergency funding to steady the supply of reliable energy to consumers and industry!”
Swanepoel says, “During the COVID-19 pandemic astronomical amounts were allocated with seemingly effortless ease to combat the disease, with great effect. Why is our energy supply not treated in the same way? This crisis has a similar devasting effect on the citizens and the economy. Amandla! Forward to a just energy transition.”
Bino Makhalanyane, an Anglican from Cape Town, Western Cape says, “I think its high time we mobilize faith leaders (at a high level) to empower them and allow them to lead to stand against such it cannot be that we continue to be almost the same bill while we only getting 40% of electricity. Maybe SAFCEI could get ways of educating the public on alternative forms of harvesting energy, such as biogas or installing solar panels. Advocate for tax free on renewable energy material. Research ways of disposal of solar panels and so on that way we are thinking ahead and not creating a problem for the future.
Lindelani Mbulawa, a Christian from Bizina, Amadiba says, “This price hike is a violation against human beings and humanity because as a country we are experiencing new language so called loadshedding since 2008, and this electricity is weaker, bad, also very expensive. Now the Eskom board, the minister of Mineral Resources and the ruling party they all need a serious counselling with a very good and experienced psychologist. You cannot hike the price while we are facing a loadshedding. It has been too long now that we see people playing games, which directly affect our lives, right in front of us. Every year the cost of living goes up, yet every year the service delivery gets worse.”