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Power costs in the press


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I've noticed a few articles lately about utility costs and especially electricity costs.

Yes, Eskom, and thus the municipalities, have increased at greater than inflation and even in excess of the COL index, but some of what I'm seeing I don't get.

One article, written by a person living in Johannesburg, mentioned a 288% increase in a year. Wow! There is no way COJ have increased tariffs by that much. I think a lot of homes are using more power because of folks working from home. Certainly in Johannesburg (I have no experience of paying bills in any other municipality) one can find one's bill increases hugely one month, drops the next because meters don't get read  every month.

One person said his bill used to be 4K a month, is now 13K, despite having installed a solar geyser.

It doesn't help, of course, that we had load shedding in the winter. That's not going to make anybody feel happier about Eskom. But still... these numbers?

Does anybody here, or, more likely, anybody they know well, see these sorts of doubling and tripling of power bills?

Problems I can think of

  1. People don't understand that electricity billing is on a sliding scale - the more you use, the more you pay per unit.
  2. lag between you making changes and the impact of those changes being seen on the bill (typically in Johannesburg your electricity bill is 60 days behind current date)
  3. bad wiring from sub station to houses. I have been through this. A sub contractor installed a new sub station and meters and marked the meters incorrectly, so I was paying the bill that my neighbour should have got and so on. But meters are often on individual properties.
  4. Skelmheid. Somebody is hooking up to your feed or has paid a crooked official to put their usage on your meter (or to swap connections on meters).
  5. Interim readings. In Jhb these are always on the high side. Eventually they get corrected, and so if you average consumption and billing over, say, six months you should get a realistic estimate (I also thionk that the City uses interim readings for a short term cash flow boost).
  6. There are two components to your electricity bill in Jhb - if you're not a pre-paid customer: The per unit cost of the power use (which moves in line with Eskom tariffs) and the flat fees (which are nothing to do with Eksom and which the City can set as high as the oversight committee will allow them to get away with).



Edited by Bobster
spelllling and brevity
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On 2020/10/22 at 3:57 PM, Vassen said:

The other problem is that increases often come in just before winter, which also adds to the perception that the increase is more than it should be because you have an increase and then winter usage is a lot higher. 

Certainly in Johannesburg this is the case. New tariffs always kick in July 1st, but it is at least a month before they get reflected on your bill.

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Two stories...

1) People in my street were complaining about how the crazy government was changing the price of electricity all the time. I found out what @Vassenpoints out, that many of them did not know that there was a sliding scale. So what was happening is that they put R400 in the meter at the start of the month and got X units. Later on in the month they'd put in another R400 and get Y units where Y < X. They didn't know that electricity is billed on a sliding scale: The first 350 (at the moment) units you buy in a calendar month are the cheapest. Thereafter you pay more per unit on a sliding scale. Once they understood this they were satisfied that they were not being billed a rate than changed according to Government whim.


2) My wife tells me of a friend who complained that her electricity bill had shot through the roof. The friend further added that the increase began just after they bought an electric car.


But in both cases the simple message that got out was that we are being screwed for electricity.

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6 hours ago, Bobster said:

The first 350 (at the moment) units you buy in a calendar month are the cheapest.

Where I live in Alberton wpay R12 per month service fee for pre paid meters, it is automatically deducted when we load power but it is displayed as arrears on the receipt. Some times I don't load power for about three months and then when I buy again I notice the arrears for three months going off first and then rest is for electricity units.

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