Eskom has announced a 14 hour daily disconnect period for municipalities that don’t uphold their payment conditions with the power utility.
The group said that it sent notice to the Letsemeng Local Municipality in the Free State that it would withhold the provision of electricity due to non-payment.
However, unlike its threats in the past, Eskom said it would not cut off supply completely – at least for now.
“Eskom recognises that indefinitely withholding electricity supply may cause undue hardship to consumers and members of the community, and may adversely affect the delivery of other services,” it said.
“In view of this, and in order to minimise hardship to consumers and members of the community, Eskom will withhold its electricity supply services in a regulated pattern, as opposed to outright disconnection.”
This will allow members of the community to make alternative arrangements, it said.
This new plan will take effect from the 20th of February 2020 until the payment breach is resolved, it said, with power supply off between 06h00 and 20h00 every day, Monday through to Sunday.
The areas affected include Koffiefontein, Luckhoff and Petrusburg.
Eskom warned that it may also give a seven-day notice of power supply being cut completely if the 14 hours blackouts do not lead to payment.
According to Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter, debt owed to Eskom by South African municipalities increased to R26.8 billion by the end of December 2019 – though it has seen improved payments coming from Soweto.
De Ruyter said that the R26.8 billion owed by municipalities includes interest, while debt owed to the group from individual users is currently sitting at R16.5 billion.
“Positively, the payment rate in Soweto has improved from 12% to 23.9%. This is thanks to government leaders who have come out and stated that users need to pay for the services they use,” he said.
At Eskom’s last financial reporting, Soweto was the biggest individual non-paying area, owing to the power utility R19 billion. At the time, other municipalities owed R17.6 billion.