Eskom may possibly have to reimburse customers R11 billion for overcharging, following a court ruling to review the decision to increase the price of electricity this year.
Since April, mense have been paying 9.4 percent more for electricity while the increase between 2014 and last year was just 3.4 percent.
On Tuesday, the high court in Pretoria ruled that the decision of the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) to approve this year’s abnormally large hike was “irrational, unfair and unlawful”.
Judge Cynthia Pretorius set aside the decision on the basis that Nersa granted Eskom an additional R11.2 billion for higher-than-expected energy costs and lower sales in 2013/14.
The court found discrepancies in Eskom’s quarterly reports to Nersa.
In her scathing verdict, Judge Pretorius said: “It was irrational for Nersa not to have the quarterly reports for the 2013/2014 year, not to alert consumers and the public that it intended to deviate from the MYPD (multi-year price determination) methodology and not to allow the consumers and the public to deal with the deviations in the public hearings and submissions to Nersa.”
According to the Cape Argus, energy experts believe Eskom may have to refund consumers the difference between this and last year’s increases.
But Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) spokesman Ted Blom said those with prepaid accounts may lose out.
“It’s not going to be feasible for those who buy prepaid electricity to claim back extra time,” he said, adding those on regular accounts should be able to claim back.
The court was forced to intervene after Eastern Cape businesses filed an application to have Eskom’s 2013/14 application overruled.
Both Nersa and Eskom may appeal. Nersa said it would reply to the ruling by Friday. Eskom said it was waiting for Nersa’s response.