NELSON Mandela Bay residents claim that despite efforts to curb power usage, they are consuming much more electricity since the new inclining block tariffs (IBT) system was introduced in July by the metro.
This follows several complaints by residents who said they were paying more than the highest electricity consumption block advertised by the municipality.
The IBT tariff, which applies to consumers on conventional and prepaid meters, sees residents charged 91c per unit – equivalent to one kilowatt hour – up to 350kWh per month.
Using between 350kWh and 600kWh sees the charge increase to R1.09/unit.
Using more than 600kWh a month will see the charge increase to R1.29/unit. All prices exclude VAT.
The metro has previously urged residents on prepaid meters to purchase their electricity on monthly cycles, as the IBT system works on monthly tariff cycles – meaning stockpiling electricity could work out more costly.
Swartkops resident Charles Hanson said he was shocked when he purchased electricity and noticed he was charged R1.47/unit.
"I don't understand why I paid R1.47 per unit. The most we were supposed to pay was R1.29.
"Also, the electricity is getting used up much quicker than before. The municipality needs to explain," Hanson said.
The municipality's acting executive director for electricity and energy, Peter Neilson, explained that some residents did not take into account having to pay VAT on top of the metro's advertised electricity rates.
"The municipality cannot advertise the tariffs with the 14% VAT included, because VAT could change, whereas electricity is a fixed tariff," Neilson said.
The IBT is designed in such a way that the more electricity one consumes, the higher the average price, on a monthly basis.
The municipality's assistant director for revenue management and customer care, Johan van Vuuren, said residents were still under the impression that the municipality calculated tariffs according to consumption averages.
"The new method is more direct and does not rely on averages," he said.
Both Neilson and Van Vuuren denied the IBT had any impact on the level of households' electricity consumption.
"In winter geysers use more units because they need more energy to heat the water than in summer," Neilson said.
"Thermostat-controlled appliances could lead to excessive electricity consumption if the thermostat is faulty."