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OUTA commends NERSA stance against Eskom secrecy

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) welcomes the decision by the National Energy Regulator (NERSA) that Eskom must meet the NERSA information requirements, overruling Eskom’s desire to keep key operating costs secret.

Eskom had applied to NERSA for permission to keep certain costs information secret, largely on the grounds that it was unable to provide such detailed information. OUTA raised an objection to Eskom’s secrecy application and provided a detailed written and verbal submission to NERSA.

“We’re pleased that NERSA has instructed Eskom to provide the information and, as such, has acted in favour of the public,” says Ted Blom, OUTA’s Portfolio Director of Energy.

This is a significant development towards ensuring transparency and detailed input regarding the pricing of electricity.

The detailed information related to extensive operating costs must now be provided to NERSA by 27 August, as part of Eskom’s tariff application for 2018/19.

“We are furthermore concerned at the comment by Eskom’s spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe that ‘we have no choice but to adhere to the decision’,” says Wayne Duvenage, OUTA’s Chairperson.

OUTA believes that Eskom does have the choice to provide both NERSA and the public with all this detailed information, which should be available at the click of a mouse. This is not rocket science, but instead is basic operational management information that Eskom ought to have on an hourly, weekly, monthly and annual basis. It is OUTA’s contention that Eskom is reluctant to display this information in detail, over the past decade, as it will show how inefficiently the organisation has been managed and how exorbitant its operating costs have become. When this is shown against the backdrop of the massive bonus that Eskom’s leadership has paid itself, the public and NERSA will have significant questions that require answering.

“We believe that this added level of transparency will highlight Eskom’s transgressions that have been invisible in the past, such as the expensive Gupta coal contracts,” added Blom.

NERSA allowed Eskom exemption from providing two categories of information: a temporary exemption on the valuation of the regulatory asset base, but this must be provided for the next price application; and an exemption on the deferred debits and credits, as this related to an aspect that isn’t part of the pricing application.

The information is legally required in terms of the Multi-Year Price Determination (MYPD) and Minimum Information Requirements for Tariff Application (MIRTA), which since 2016 include increased disclosure requirements, a result of Blom’s fight against corruption prior to 2016.

For a copy of the ruling, click here.

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