Joburg hits back at Eskom – demands R3.4 billion in overcharges

 ·7 May 2024

The City of Joburg has hit back at Eskom’s decision to sue the metro over R1 billion in unpaid bills, saying that the utility actually owes it R3.4 billion in overcharges.

Eskom announced on 6 May that Joburg utility City Power’s debt owed had hit R1.073 billion as of 31 March 2023, leaving it with no choice but to approach the Johannesburg High Court for a declaratory order to force City Power to pay what is due.

It said that the city started to default on payment in October 2023, and no payments were received from March 2024 onwards.

The case has been enrolled for hearing on 4 June 2024.

However, the City of Joburg said that Eskom is not giving the full story, and that the utility owes the city billions of rands due to inaccurate overcharging for the last three years.

“Following multiple discussions regarding queries lodged in connection with grossly inaccurate billing on bulk purchase invoices, Eskom has opted to ignore those issues and rushed to the courts,” the city said.

“The city is of the strong view that the financial obligations of City Power to Eskom vs the financial obligations of Eskom to the city should be treated in the same manner and symmetrically,” it said.

The City of Joburg said it pays Eskom about R1 billion for electricity monthly, and it “remains committed to paying for services rendered and validated as due, as it always has”.

However, it added that the fight over the money should be viewed in the context of Eskom “overbilling for services each month since 2021“.

“City Power validates bulk purchases for completeness and accuracy using its own check metering infrastructure at major intake substations.

“In instances of potential discrepancies, it must be noted that it is due to this checked metering infrastructure that City Power was able to ascertain and quantify the extent of overbilling by Eskom.

“Eskom is notified as the billing authority in line with provisions of relevant NRS standards, including NRS057. More often than not, the national utility chooses to ignore these discrepancies that are brought to their attention.

“Eskom has admitted in some cases that there have been potential billing inaccuracies and has so far refunded City Power at least R483 million over the recent years,” it said.

In the city’s latest assessment, it said that Ekom owes it a lot more and that it engaged the power utility in mid-April, proposing that an independent electricity expert give an assessment.

Eskom was reluctant, it said.

“The city has always been committed to engaging with Eskom with the expectation to find an amicable resolution which will benefit our residents in the City of Johannesburg, and the country at large – hence the dispute resolution needs to be expedited.”

“As a matter of process, the city will be opposing the court application that Eskom filed, because it has no basis in facts and law,” it said.

Read: Eskom taking Joburg to court over R1 billion debt

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