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Non-technical losses in the spotlight

21 April 2008 – The City of Cape Town has, through the intervention of its Revenue Protection Unit, managed to keep revenue losses due to theft and tampering at 3.3%, says the Unit’s head, Neil Ballantyne.


Neil Ballantyne

In addition to keeping the losses low, the unit is managing to recover some US$1.4 million a year.

"The city has to pay Eskom for all electricity consumed. If we do not receive payment for the consumption that is stolen, our electricity tariffs need to be increased to recover the cost of this stolen electricity and as a result, every electricity user is affected," Ballantyne explained.

Said Councillor Clive Justus, chairperson of the Utility Services Portfolio Committee for the City of Cape Town: "The theft of public property cannot be tolerated nor condoned. To this end the Revenue Protection Unit is authorised to identify, monitor and act where and when theft occurs."

Eskom, which distributes 40% of South Africa’s electricity, loses up to 10% of the demand due to illegal connections, non-payment and tampering.

However, Eskom spokesperson, Andrew Etzinger, says this only accounts for between 2% and 10% of national demand.

"From our side we have put strong measures in place such as a revenue protection unit that deals with non-payment. Eskom also has its own investigation force.

"But remember, we also supply municipalities who distribute to their customers. We charge them an agreed amount regardless of whether they are able to sell that power to their customers," he said.

Eskom estimates that municipal losses account for 7.5% of lost electricity, as many did not have Eskom’s resources and were therefore more vulnerable to losses.

South Africans have been urged to save electricity in the face of the current electricity crisis. In addition, Minister of Water Affairs and forestry, Lindiwe Hendricks, said the culture of conservation should extend to water resources as well.

"We need to change the culture of wasteful use of these resources," she said.