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Mon Jun 27 07:49:33 CAT 2016

OUTA to challenge electricity hike in court

TMG Digital | 26 March, 2016 10:55
Eskom's National Grid Pylons carrying SA's electricity buzz & hum at sunset outside Koeberg Nuclear Power Station. File photo
Image by: ESA ALEXANDER /©SUNDAY TIMES

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) says it is to urgently challenge the electricity tariff hike in court.

It said that after various unfruitful requests by the organisation and other parties to receive the written reasons from NERSA for its decision to permit Eskom to implement a 9.4% electricity tariff increase‚ it had 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.

“In answer to OUTA's request to supply the public with the reasons for its decision to grant Eskom a 9.4% increase‚ NERSA (the national energy regulator) 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. These answers will in all likelihood only come to the fore well after the electricity tariff increases have been implemented‚ well outside the period the public is able to assess and comment on validity of the reasons for their decision‚” OUTA said.

It said this cast doubt on the legitimacy of the entire public participation process of the RCA hearings‚ and it was OUTA's view that the tariff hike should be challenged before being implemented on the 1st of April 2016.

“OUTA's executive team has unanimously decided that it is in the public's best interests to intervene with haste‚ since it's unlikely that this egg could ever be unscrambled after the tariff has already been increased.

“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‚” said Ivan Herselman‚ OUTA’s director of legal affairs.

Should OUTA succeed with the interdict‚ Eskom would be prohibited from implementing the electricity tariff increase‚ until NERSA has provided OUTA and the public with sufficient reasons for their decision.

“Additionally‚ the organisation needs to be afforded an opportunity to challenge the decision and set it aside‚" Herselman added.

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