Eskom's urgent court bid to hike electricity prices is dismissed
An urgent court bid by ailing power utility Eskom, which would have seen electricity prices raised by 16.6% and then another 16.7% over the next two years, was dismissed by the Pretoria high court on Monday.
Eskom rushed to court to have a 2019 decision by the National Energy Regulator (Nersa), which approved increases of 8.10% and 5.22% for these years, set aside.
Judge Jody Kollapen found the matter was not urgent and that the bid to have electricity prices raised would be heard on the normal court roll.
The state power producer is caught in a debt spiral and without soaring tariff increases runs the risk of defaulting on its R441bn debt.
In papers before court, Eskom held that without these tariff increases it could default on payments to lenders, triggering the immediate payment of its national debt burden of R318bn, which is guaranteed by the government.
This, Eskom CFO Calib Cassim said in an affidavit, would cause “catastrophic harm to Eskom and the national economy”.
Kollapen said Eskom had not satisfied the court that it would suffer “immediate and irreparable harm” and thus its review would be set down on the normal court roll.
“Undue hardships faced by customers and the impact of such a price increase also need to be taken into account,” he said.
In handing down his ruling, Kollapen added that he would support an expedited review.