The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) has successfully appealed to the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) to hold a public hearing on Eskom’s application to keep certain of its operating statistics a secret.

Outa suspects the reason Eskom wants to hide the operating statistics is that they include the actual amounts of "Gupta coal" Eskom consumes — and which costs it double the amount that it pays other suppliers.

This coal comes from the controversially acquired Gupta company Optimum Coal.

The public hearing will be held on Friday at the Nersa head office in Pretoria.

In February, Eskom applied to Nersa for permission to keep secret certain critical statistics that should have been included in its upcoming electricity tariff application, which will set electricity prices for 2018. Eskom has applied for a 19.9% price increase.

Last year, Nersa amended its rules for these applications for multiyear price determinations to require greater operational transparency from Eskom, including on its coal-burning operations.

But according to Outa, Eskom applied for an exemption from publishing those statistics.

Outa argues that this application should be rejected.

"Outa objected to these exemptions when stakeholders were asked to offer written comment earlier this year. In addition, Outa informed Nersa that, in our opinion, Nersa is obliged to hold public hearings on this critical matter," its director for energy, Ted Blom, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Blom said the organisation had information "relating to the ongoing corruption, fraud and mismanagement at Eskom. This was confirmed by the subsequent publication of the State of Capture report (by former public protector Thuli Madonsela) as well as several additional forensic reports that have since been published.

"Today it is an established fact that Eskom is a corrupt cesspool of ongoing crime."

Blom says in his submission to Nersa that the "gross stealing and corruption" at the utility renders it inefficient and nullifies any justification for increases in tariffs, which should instead be reduced by at least 50% on these grounds.

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