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City Power pre-paid disconnections


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Good day.

I stay in Randburg and is suppose to be getting power from City Power. I have have solar power and are on prepaid. Recently City Power has removed my circuit breaker without notifying me. After about 3 weeks of trying to understand what the reason was, I went to the City Power offices. They informed me that my circuit breaker was removed because I'm not using enough electricity. I now need to pay a penalty of R12000 to get reconnected. This is the same penalty you would pay if you had an illegal connection.

Firstly, a warning to prepaid customers, you need to load electricity every month, otherwise you will be flagged as "non-vending" and City Power will disconnect you.

Secondly, is this legal what they are doing? This feels like an illegal disconnection.

Is there anybody that can give me advise on how to get reconnected without paying the penalty.

Thank you

Edited by ErickvWyngaard
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  • ErickvWyngaard changed the title to City Power pre-paid disconnections

Sad to hear what happened to you and thanks for the heads up. I'm also on pre-paid with city power and stay in the Randburg area. I have been buying R200 units,  sometimes R300 and they keep accumulating, just to show them that I still exist. I suspected that something like this would happen when I realized that my breaker on the street was marked, showing that someone came to inspect to see if we had bridged the supply. Sad that they would disconnect without a warning or asking you to explain why you are not buying units. 

R12000 is too extreme, I think you should go to their offices and explain that you did not bridge the supply and that you are using solar. Hopefully they will reconnect with a lesser fine 

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Probably best to take it up wih your local ward councilor? 

Single phase or Three Phase?

Did you have a positive unit balance on the meter(s)? roughly how any units? and when did you last load units?

Just Curious?

What happens if you are away for 3 months and you preload enough units for the period ? will they also just decide to disconenct you?  It also sounds suspect. Also what happens to the credit on the meter? it cant just be stolen?

Only if your rates, taxes, water and or refuse are in arrears can they diconnect your electricity and then charge a fees usually around the notice / disconnection and reconnection? typically.

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47 minutes ago, ErickvWyngaard said:

Good day.

I stay in Randburg and is suppose to be getting power from City Power. I have have solar power and are on prepaid. Recently City Power has removed my circuit breaker without notifying me. After about 3 weeks of trying to understand what the reason was, I went to the City Power offices. They informed me that my circuit breaker was removed because I'm not using enough electricity. I now need to pay a penalty of R12000 to get reconnected. This is the same penalty you would pay if you had an illegal connection.

Firstly, a warning to prepaid customers, you need to load electricity every month, otherwise you will be flagged as "non-vending" and City Power will disconnect you.

Secondly, is this legal what they are doing? This feels like an illegal disconnection.

Is there anybody that can give me advise on how to get reconnected without paying the penalty.

Thank you

Although this is on social media already I would use twitter to explain what they did. Further I would phone in on an open line period on radio 702 and tell your story. 

You might also use a voice note sent via WhatsApp to 702 and hope they play it on air. Some of the presenters might also take it up with City Power. 

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I did go to the offices, at some point the manager just left and the guy behind the counter stopped talking to me, and I didn't want to waist my time any further so I also left.

I took it up with my ward counselor last week, but nothing came from it.

I don't use a lot of power. I've used about R200 from August last year. I still ad a bit of credits left, luckily only R28. I wanted to load more, and that is when I realized that I've been cut off. 

Thanks, I will send a message to 702 and maybe Jacaranda as well and see if there is somebody that can help resolve this

 

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The moment you switch to solar (whether you are pre- or post-paid), they will notice the drop in consumption and you will be flagged for attention. I hadn't been on solar very long when I had City Power knocking at my door, asking to see my meter and main breaker. They told me what had happened: That they had seen a drop in my purchases and wanted to check for bridging. They have repeated this a few times. One of the technicians who came out also told me that if you don't buy any power for 3 months then your meter is flagged on their systems, you will not be able to purchase going forwards and it will eventually switch itself off.

I have a huge credit on my meter. This still grows as I buy R70 or so every couple of months. It's really money spent on nothing, but it's tiny compared to what I would be paying, and the saving is still considerable. I don't expect to ever get it back. If I switched to the reseller's tariff I would be paying R700 or so a month in fees before there is any billing for electricity. I'll take the R70 every couple of months, and my system is set to not export.

I live in your general area. I have spoken to two ward councillors - one for my ward, one for a neighbouring ward. This was just to get information and/or advice on what to do now that I have PV. They were totally clueless and offered nothing useful other than a sort of nudge nudge, wink wink, no need to tell the City anything, hey? Which is how one gets into such a mess.

But maybe if they have a specific problem, spelled out in detail, they might be of use. I think it's down to the individual. Some have a clue and some don't. A few years ago a now-retired councillor was very helpful to me, but the last couple of years I have found that the way to get things done is to bypass the people who are supposed to represent us. Maybe your luck will be better.

Please keep us updated as the matter progresses. You will note that there are several of us in the same general area, with PV and a pre-paid connection.

I hope that this gets resolved. You haven't acted with bad intention, and the City shouldn't be punishing you.

Edited by Bobster.
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Unethical and unfair to disconnect you because you don't buy for a few months.
Then to demand R12,000 to reconnect is completely outrageous.

I'm also on CoJ pre-paid.
Fortunately I'd heard of this disconnect issue, so I decided to purchase a small amount every month.
No issues so far with CoJ.

Edited by system32
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5 hours ago, hoohloc said:

R12000 is too extreme, I think you should go to their offices and explain that you did not bridge the supply and that you are using solar. Hopefully they will reconnect with a lesser fine 

IMO there shouldn't be any fine at all unless you are breaking some rule/usage requirement.  

Would ask for the documentation where it says that if you don't use any power for three months they can cut you off, I can't see anything on the Citypower website to that effect and if they can't provide you with anything that they reconnect you. Maybe get a lawyers letter written to that affect. 

Engage with them on Twitter/Facebook  

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Try emailing [email protected] as they are in charge of switching to prepaid  https://www.joburg.org.za/media_/Newsroom/Pages/2013 articles/2011 & 2012 Articles/Converting-to-prepaid.aspx 

Would like to know where they got the reconnection fee of R12,000 from, from the Citypower website:

For each disconnection and each reconnection of supply:

Disconnection notification only: R145,28 including VAT
Request by customer: R685,14 including VAT
Due to charges in arrear: R685,14 including VAT
Illegally reconnected conventional supply: R2 635,29 including VAT
Meter tampering/prepaid meter bypass/illegal connection: R2635,29 including VAT
Once this amount is paid you will need to go to a City Power depot and apply and pay for a new connection and meter.
Settling overdue accounts after services are disconnected
In the event that services have been removed, you will have to make full payment of the outstanding balance and show your proof of payment before services will be reconnected.

 

I think that the issues is, under what conditions were you disconnected? 

 

Edited by Sc00bs
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Thank you for the feedback.

It seems like losing a bit of myself at the City Power office did something. This afternoon a technician phoned me and said he is on his why. When he got to my house he said that my wire to my meter has been stolen and he will replace it. I entered a tamper code and 10min later I loaded power. I'm really not sure what changed between this morning and this afternoon. I just praised the technician for his good deed. 

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I was flagged within three months after my solar install. 
They inspected 3 times to check if I was illegally connecting in the street DB. 
Then they pitched one day and just installed a prepaid unit. No pre-advice or me asking for it.
Anyhow, the guys that installed advised me on that day that I would have to recharge once at least every 3 months else the connection will be discontinued.
So now I buy R100 every 2 months or so and use it sometimes to keep it ticking over.

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This is why Eskom's needs to put everyone on a flat rate (availability charge) plus usage already. Otherwise you get such irate folks who don't contribute towards maintenance of infrastructure, but expect Eskom to be always on when they want it. The prepaid billing is just not appropriate for these days of solar self-generation. Nobody complains when a prepaid SIM card is cancelled after months of inactivity.

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9 hours ago, GreenFields said:

This is why Eskom's needs to put everyone on a flat rate (availability charge) plus usage already.

Be careful, many in this forum regard that as a "sun tax", and it's highly controversial. Even though it's a perfectly reasonable thing for the council to do.

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7 hours ago, Eurard said:

The first buy every month includes a 55rand service fee. This is what they want. So just buy 60 rand each month

For which council is this?

Can you maybe link to some online literature that explains this in more detail? It's the first I've heard of this, so would be interested to learn more.

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11 hours ago, hoohloc said:
14 hours ago, Pumba said:

If your solar system is not registered with your local power supplier they have every right to disconnect you if you are not using grid pre or post paid electricity. 

Is that a fact? or hearsay? 

It sounds right to me. If you're not using post or prepaid electricity then what is the actual point of the connection, and why should they bear the cost of maintinaing that connection?

It is certainly the case that City of Johannesburg (and I would bet it's not only them) track usage patterns on meters. If they see a sudden change then they exercise their right to inspect. It may be something innocent like the customer has found other ways of heating water or has installed solar, or it may be something less legal. They don't know until they inspect. I've had City Power knock on my door to inspect, and I haven't minded. 

Bypassing is a more subtle game than we think. I remember a work colleague who owned a second property. This was in Centurion. A truck left the road, smashed through the front wall and then on into the house. The damage she found was considerable. She decided to turn off all services as a safety measure. She left in the early evening and was puzzled to see an exterior light burning. She went back inside to check at the DB and heard the fridge running. She asked an electrician to inspect, and he told her that some circuits had been by connected to the "wrong" side of the meter, and indeed to the wrong side of the main breaker. The suspicion was that the tenant had had this done, but nothing could be proven. The circuits by-passing the meter were mostly in the kitchen. Whoever did this would still register some useage on the meter, but would get a handy "discount" because the stove, microwave etc were not putting anything on the meter.

This is what energy suppliers are faced with. For them to monitor and then decide how to treat each case is not unreasonable.

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7 hours ago, Eurard said:

The first buy every month includes a 55rand service fee. This is what they want. So just buy 60 rand each month

I've never noticed this in Johannesburg, buying from City Power. They quote a rate on their website. This is the retail price that you pay and which every seller must charge. It includes the seller's markup. The seller is not allowed to add any other fees, they already have their profit. 

Where other charges may kick in is with these third party pre-paid meters that you get. The company providing their service installs their own meter after the municipal meter. They pay the municipal bill on behalf of the property owner, and bill the tenant at a higher rate for the units consumed. Their charge to the tenant includes service fees.

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10 hours ago, GreenFields said:

This is why Eskom's needs to put everyone on a flat rate (availability charge) plus usage already.

Eskom is a state owned enterprise. Their infrastructure is financed through your taxes and was built with your taxes. 
Should all energy providers be entitled to this "flat rate" that you propose? Isn't it a supply and demand principle?
Let's assume the petroleum industry comes up with the same argument and proposes a flat rate to be charged every time you fill your car with fuel to compensate for fluctuating fuel sales?
 


 

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21 minutes ago, zsde said:

Eskom is a state owned enterprise. Their infrastructure is financed through your taxes and was built with your taxes. 
Should all energy providers be entitled to this "flat rate" that you propose? Isn't it a supply and demand principle?
Let's assume the petroleum industry comes up with the same argument and proposes a flat rate to be charged every time you fill your car with fuel to compensate for fluctuating fuel sales?
 


 

What's being suggested, it seems to me, is a flat charge for providing the connection (which includes the accounting side of things) and then a separate charge for use. That's the way it's been for a long time for post-paid users. Pre-paid users got a concession, rightly so,  in my view, because they pay before they use, which is good for your cash flow, and because there is reduced administration on the account. 

However, a few years ago COJ started proposing a fixed up front fee per month for all pre-paid meters. Their argument was that if I have pre-paid, it costs them just as much to provide a connection to my property as to my neighbour's property. I protested on the grounds that pre-paid users aid the City with its cash flow and that has value for the City, and that we pay MORE per kWh. For the last 3 years this monthly charge has stayed on the table but has been excluded at budget time on various grounds, including the City saying  one year that it had been added to the budget after sign off and without their knowldege (which explains why they published this figure and said it would be added to the rates portion of the bill)). I don't know what is happening with this proposal this year.

I note that new sectional title developments in my neck of the wood are always advertised as having pre-paid meters. Does this strengthen the City's argument because they are having to provide connections but can only charge for actual useage?

Anyway, Eskom have also been saying that they have to bear the cost of providing a service to properties on pre-paid tariffs but get less for that service (see again my argument about cash flow, which is always worth something to a business). And so they have told NERSA that their should be a fixed fee per month for the connection for all classes of user. 

Edited by Bobster.
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3 hours ago, suds7162 said:

Be careful, many in this forum regard that as a "sun tax", and it's highly controversial. Even though it's a perfectly reasonable thing for the council to do.

I don't know about the members of this forum, but I have seen residents in my neck of the wood complaining about a "sun tax". But many of my neighbours seem to have little idea of how things actually work. EG they tell you that City Power manipulate the pre-paid tariff over a month. They don't, but they do have a sliding scale (for post-paid too) so that the more you use, the more you pay per unit.

And several of them seem not to have been reading their statements. They install solar, and then wait a couple of months for their electricity bill to start showing zero. Which it never does because there are fixed charges. When the bill doesn't hit zero these folks then decide that this is the government taxing PV systems by stealth. The truth, as is often the case, is more prosaic.

Edited by Bobster.
sppeling
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41 minutes ago, Bobster. said:

I've never noticed this in Johannesburg, buying from City Power. They quote a rate on their website. This is the retail price that you pay and which every seller must charge. It includes the seller's markup. The seller is not allowed to add any other fees, they already have their profit. 

Where other charges may kick in is with these third party pre-paid meters that you get. The company providing their service installs their own meter after the municipal meter. They pay the municipal bill on behalf of the property owner, and bill the tenant at a higher rate for the units consumed. Their charge to the tenant includes service fees.

If you are on prepaid, check your first purchase of the month, the service fee is included when you get your token notification sms.

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