Public to Be Informed on ‘Electricity Overcharging’

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK The Electricity Control Board (ECB) is expected to report to the Ministry of Mines and Energy this week on the outcome of the recent urgent meeting regarding the alleged overcharging on electricity bills by the City of Windhoek. An official from the ECB confirmed last week that a meeting was convened between the ECB and the City of Windhoek last week. The official could not divulge the outcome of the meeting but promised the public would be informed of the resolutions before the end of this week. The source said that it is factual that the City has been overcharging its clients by applying its own tariffs and not those approved by the ECB. “We feel positive about the discussions and now we have to report to the line ministry,” the ECB reported. A month ago, it emerged that the City of Windhoek had been allegedly overcharging its customers for electricity. The service provider is said to have collected not less than N$3 million every month through the use of unapproved methods. The ECB claims that the illegal collection of bills was done by the City of Windhoek as it overlooked the implementation of the approved tariff increase of 10.2 percent, and instead imposed a 14.7 percent increase, which represents a tariff increase of 11.9 percent. Though that be the case, the City of Windhoek denied overcharging and said instead of introducing 10.2 percent as approved by the regulator, it in actual fact increased its tariff by 8 percent, within which it made provision for one cent per/kWh to cater for the cost to ring-fence the city’s electricity department. But, according to the ECB, the one cent/kWh was meant for equity contributions for the planned Central RED. The regulator rejected this, saying consumers could not be made to foot the bill for such undertakings. The ECB wondered why the City wanted its residents to pay for the cost of establishing REDS, while other municipalities, which are much poorer than the City of Windhoek, have found other means of raising the equity. Should the main electricity supplier in the capital be found guilty on the allegations or to have gone against the Electricity Act of 2000, Simasiku said it (the Windhoek City Council) was likely to be taken to court to explain its illegal act. However, this would only take place if the two parties involved exhaust all avenues without any solution. The ECB warned local authorities against taking the law into their own hands, adding that Section 25 of the Electricity Act 2000 stipulates that a licensee is not allowed to levy any charge against clients other than the tariffs specified in the schedule of approved tariffs. The ECB was established in 2000 to regulate the generation, transmission, supply, import and export of electricity in the country.