3 700 Erongo residents enjoy subsidised electricity

WALVIS BAY: A total of 3 700 pensioners and other low-income earners in the Erongo Region are benefiting from subsidised electricity tariffs by the Erongo Regional Electricity Distributor (Erongo RED) company.

Half of the 3 700 beneficiaries live in Swakopmund, and the rest in Walvis Bay and Henties Bay.

These beneficiaries will receive no tariff increase in the 2014/15 financial year, while other users will receive an average increase of 10.2 per cent.

The Erongo RED Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Robert Kahimise announced this during a media briefing on electricity tariff increments at Walvis Bay on Friday.

“This segment of the community we call vulnerable, have enjoyed cheaper electricity tariffs at N.dollar 1.20 per kilo watt per hour. We have also installed pre-paid meters to this segment at no cost,” he said.

Kahimise revealed that the company’s social tariffs scheme, through which the pensioners benefit, was introduced in 2012, and is aimed at making electricity affordable to them.

The company spends N.dollars 10 million a year to subsidise electricity for this segment of customers.

“The reason for this increase (10.2 per cent) is to ensure cost reflectivity, and also to recoup N.dollars 28 million for the ongoing Walvis Bay Bulk upgrade.

We have also revamped our tariff structures, making our tariffs the lowest in the country. I am happy to say that for the second year in a row, we have managed to pass on power tariffs lower than what was passed onto us,” Kahimise boasted.

He noted that with the average increase of 13.22 per cent from the national power utility, NamPower, this financial year, the impact on Erongo RED is 15 per cent, but the company passed on a 10.2 per cent increment to its customers only.

Another achievement for Erongo RED is its debt management project, introduced in 2012 to deal with the disconnection of power caused by debts.

This project aims to reconnect all those disconnected from the power supply through special arrangements, such as pre-payment electricity boxes installed in debtors’ houses.

Kahimise explained that these pre-payment electricity boxes allow the user to “keeps their lights” while paying their electricity debts.

“When customers pay for their power, 30 per cent of the amount covers their debts while 70 per cent is for own consumption. So, I once again appeal to those disconnected to approach our office and make arrangements to have their electricity re-connected,” said the CEO.

The coastal electricity distribution company is also looking at embarking on a rural electrification project to support Government’s efforts to connect electricity in rural areas.

Kahimise said four villages – Okombahe, Otjimbingwe, Otjohorongo and Okamapuku – have been earmarked for electrification in due course.

In December last year, Erongo RED connected 165 houses to the power grid in the Uis settlement, and it is currently busy with similar projects in Karibib, Usakos and Omaruru.

“The sad reality is that we are using electricity that we do not have. Our peak demand continues to increase annually by 4.7 per cent.

I am, therefore, appealing to electricity consumers to use it sparingly, especially in winter and during peak hours,” he pleaded.