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EThekwini Electricity reinstates debt relief for customers

Date: 2022-09-02 08:39:56

EThekwini Electricity reinstates debt relief for customers

The Electricity Unit has reintroduced its 80/20 debt relief programme. This will allow consumers to have power whhile paying their debts.

BEING cognisant of the financial strain many consumers are under, the City’s Electricity Department has reintroduced its 80/20 and 50/50 debt relief programmes to ease the burden on customers. The debt relief started on 1 August 2022. The 80/20 and 50/50 debt relief initiatives are designed to create debt relief for the City’s customers. This debt relief mechanism returns with a variety of options set to accommodate the City’s different indebted customers.

The 80/20 option is strictly for residential customers and the 50/50 assists organisations and small businesses. Although spearheaded by the Electricity Department, the debt relief caters for a customer’s consolidated debt which includes their water and rates bills. However, the customer’s consolidated debt must include an electricity bill for them to participate in this initiative. In the event where the customer only has a water and rates bill, they will have to make payment arrangements with those Municipal services separately.

When a customer purchases an electricity token, 20 percent of their purchase goes towards their outstanding debt while 80 percent goes towards their electricity purchase. The same principle will apply for customers under the 50/50 option. The customer first needs to visit their nearest Customer Service Centre where they will make an application for the 80/20
or 50/50 debt relief. 

The applicant must be the owner of the property, someone with power of attorney over the property, or anyone given proxy by the landowner to participate in this type of agreement. For prepaid customers, the process only requires them to complete the application form which is then sent to the Electricity Unit’s Planning Division for costs. The unit’s Finance Division will need to verify the outstanding amount on the customer’s account. Once the application has been processed, the customer is called in to sign an acknowledgement of debt contract. From there, the system starts recovering debt immediately. 

Customers with existing debt of R500 or more qualify for this relief. As a credit meter customer, you first need to apply
for a meter change over because the City first needs to install a prepaid meter before activating the relief. However, since there is a changeover fee required, customers have the option to pay it upfront or opt to have those costs added to their existing debt to be recovered through the relief. The same process will apply to businesses with credit meters. Thulebona Memela explained that the unit will not be able to implement relief for bulk customers as these initiatives are only available for prepaid meters. “Their application for debt relief may force them to downgrade to a single phase prepaid or three phase up to 100A supply,” said Memela. 

He said the decision to accommodate consolidated bills is set to bring much needed relief to customers while strategically assisting the City accumulate revenue. “Our department cannot isolate a customer’s Municipal debt from other services and only manage the electricity portion because the customer will still have debt consequences. If there is a request from the Water or Rates Department for the Electricity Unit to disconnect a customer in arrears, our unit will have to disconnect. But since our debt relief initiative accommodates consolidated bills, it prevents disconnections for participating customers,” said Memela.