Reports have it that Eskom – after emerging victorious in its R69 billion court battle with the energy regulator (Nersa) – will increase the price of electricity by 15% in 2021.

That R69 billion had been allocated to Eskom in the 2019 budget to help the power utility pay off its spiralling debt.

The high court in Johannesburg ruled Nersa’s decision illegal, and said the full amount has to be paid back to Eskom over the next three years.

The immediate result is that, in April next year, the average standard Eskom tariff approved by Nersa will go up from 116.72 c/kWH to 128.24 c/kWh – an increase of 9.8% – as the first R23 billion is added back.

That’s in addition to a 5.22% tariff increase that Eskom had already negotiated for next year, which brings the total increase to around 15%.

As that’s just the first payment. There are two more to go, which means significant tariff hikes for the next three years.

Some consumers buy their electricity from municipalities, and the City of Cape Town has consistently hiked its prices in increments below that granted to Eskom.

There is still the possibility of a Nersa appeal but the R69 billion must come from somewhere – in one way or another, it’ll come from consumers.