There has been much talk about restructuring Eskom in a bid to steer SA’s largest state-owned company away from disaster. The sustainability task team, appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa late in 2018, has reportedly proposed a functional unbundling in which the utility would be split into three parts: transmission, distribution and power generation. Eskom’s enormous debt burden of R420bn will also have to be restructured, though the government is yet to pronounce on a way forward. Anthonie Cilliers, honorary research fellow at Wits University, argues there is a need to restructure something else — the tariff itself. Electricity tariffs are a hot topic. The National Energy Regulator is in the midst of public hearings into Eskom’s proposed tariff hike of 15% annually over the next three years. While electricity users warn of the negative impact of large tariff hikes, Eskom urgently needs more revenue. The typical power demand cycle in SA has a peak period in the morning and anothe...

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