Ekurhuleni has pleaded with its residents not to be shocked by inflated water and electricity accounts this month.

By Katlego Moeng

While Johannesburg residents already feel the heat of recent higher electricity bills, Ekurhuleni has pleaded with its residents not to be shocked by inflated water and electricity accounts this month.

?The municipality would like to call on its customers not to panic when they receive interim bills for the past two months.

This follows an influx of complaints from the public that their accounts are incorrect and have skyrocketed,? spokesperson Zweli Dlamini said.

?We urge consumers to continue paying the amounts reflected on their accounts. As soon as the correct meter readings are available the accounts will be adjusted accordingly .?

Dlamini said the irregularity was due to the fact that the municipality had ?recently appointed a new meter reading company, Motla Engineering, and as a result there had been an interruption in the meter reading programme?.

But City of Johannesburg residents have inundated Sowetan with complaints about their bills.

The city could not explain why residents have been billed with 80% to 100% more than the normal amounts they usually pay.

The recent 30% Eskom hike does not fully explain this spike.

Firstly, City Power, a COJ entity that sells electricity on behalf of the city, ?abandoned the fixed rate per unit charging model and now uses the step scale model?, said Mike Hockey of JMS meter reading services.

With the fixed rate consumers were charged the same rate of 41,82c a kWh regardless of the number of units consumed, explained Hockey.

?Now, a consumer is thrown straight into a consumption bracket where if one used 2001Wh, you will be billed a flat rate of 52,17c a kWh amounting to R1043,92.

But if you consume more than 3001kWh you will be billed at a flat rate of 52,77 equalling R1583,10,? Hockey said.

According to this information consumers had in the past paid R836,81 and R1254,60 respectively. The differences are 25% and 26%, respectively.

?Also, last year the city restructured the rates it charges per unit used for ?threephase? residents by about 50percent. Three-phase homes are three-bedroom or more houses, with a higher consumption,? Hockey said.

This left most homes in Johannesburg unaffected until this year when City Power restructured ?single-phase? houses as being on par with their ?three-phase? neighbours, resulting in the average person feeling the pinch.

A ?single phase? house is an average-sized home.

Basic service charges have also gone up by about 30 percent, Hockey said.