Have you seen a sudden upward spike in the amount you are paying for electricity lately? Many owners of townhouses and sectional title schemes in Bloemfontein have found that they are paying much more for electricity than in previous years – and this is not the result of the usual price increases and inflationary pressures.
Centlec to be challenged on sudden electricity price increases
Various bodies corporate, sectional title owners and tenants have joined the Association of Corporate Bodies, Owners and Tenants of Residential Sectional Title Schemes to join forces in challenging the local electricity provider Centlec to have the current residential time-of-use tariff structure revised.
During July 2010 Centlec installed time-of-use meters in various residential schemes and these schemes have been billed according to the “Nersa-approved” tariff structure. However, this tariff structure is far more expensive to the consumer as the normal residential tariff which residential units are supposed to pay according to the “Nersa-approved” tariffs. In certain instances consumers are paying in excess of 300% their “normal” utility bill, challenging the statement of Centlec that an average increase less than 30% was implemented.
Various role players in the industry, including bodies corporates, sectional title owners and managing agents have had on-going discussions with Nersa, Eskom and Centlec regarding the time-of-use tariff structure and the unfairness thereof on the sectional title owner and tenant, however, Centlec have indicated that they have no intention of revising the current tariff structure. They have in essence, challenged the members of the Association to have this issue resolved in a court of law.
In addition to consumers having to pay more per unit for their electricity, in some cases up to R1,76 per unit, they are also obliged to pay a demand charge, as well as an access charge. Normal residential units are only billed a price per unit, with no basic charges and with the maximum charge per unit being R0,85 c, it is clear that the time-of-use tariff is unfair towards certain residential consumers.
In Willows, various schemes occupied by CUT students have been equipped with time-of-use meters, with the effect that students are paying more for their electricity per unit as the normal residential consumer and they are burdened with additional charges. On average a student in a Willows block will currently have to pay approximately R783-20 (excluding basic charges) for 445 units KwH during the winter whereas a normal residential household would be paying approximately R334-00 (based on the inclining block tariff). In light of this example, it is clear that there is a definitive injustice done to the occupants in schemes where the Time-of-Use structure is in use.
Sectional Title Industry suffers most
At this point in time, it seems as though the sectional title industry are being targeted as they are equipped with bulk meters, having to pay one account to the council, leaving the burden of recovery of the individual accounts as well as the burden of dealing with irritated consumers to the owners and managing agents of the schemes. The managing agent or owners managing the scheme have to deal with all the negative aspects of the collection and recovery process and the local council hide behind so called by-laws. The agent/owners have no choice but to pay the bulk account, knowing very well that non-payment will lead to a situation where services will be disconnected.
The newly formed association call on all effected sectional title owners and managing agents to join hands and rectify the discriminatory method of revenue collection…..
We would like to urge home owners to gain a greater awareness on sectional title schemes, how these schemes are managed and how they could save on the cost of living!
[Info from Ashleigh van Greunen, Omni Estates]