The City of Cape Town has approved an electricity price increase of between 5 and 18 % for domestic users of electricity effective from the 1 July 2012.  The rationale for a sliding price increase appears to be linked to the stepped tariff structure which loads high domestic consumers of electricity with the biggest percentage price increase.  Understanding the tariff structure is key to managing your electricity demand and to keeping costs within as low a tariff band as possible.  See phone numbers for electricity account queries at the bottom of this article.

The tariff structure remains the same as for 2011 with the two basic categories of domestic users namely the Lifeline Block of users who receive 50kWh free electricity per month and the Domestic Block of users who do not receive free electricity.  

Free basic allocation of 50kWh per month for low consumption.

Note that where electricity consumption does not exceed 450 kWh per month (on average, including any free portion received), consumers will receive a free basic allocation of up to 50 kWh.  The average receipt of 450 kWh per month is measured over twelve consecutive months, and includes any Free Basic Electricity that may have been received.  This allocation will only be made with a purchase of electricity every month or where the 50kWh units are specifically claimed at a vending outlet each  month.

Where electricity consumption exceeds 450 kWh per month (on average, including any free portion), then the free electricity portion will no longer be made available to the household.  In RANDS this means that if you spend more than R413.75 per month you will not qualify for the 50kWh free units. 

Electricity Prices for Cape Town        
Note: prices in table are VAT exclusive        


2011/12 cents/kWh

2012/13 cents/kWh

% increase

Price incl VAT

Lifeline Block 1: 0 – 150kWH





Lifeline Block 2: 150.1 – 350kWH





Lifeline Block 3: 350.1 – 600kWH





Lifeline Block 4: 600.1 + kWH





Domestic Block 1: 0 – 150kWH





Domestic Block 2: 150.1 – 350kWH





Domestic Block 3: 350.1 – 600kWH





Domestic Block 4: 600.1 + kWH





Challenges to the electricity price increase

I heard Keno Cummings of Cape Talk Radio this morning (20 June) interviewing Ian Neilson the City’s Deputy Director for Finance and Henri Wolfaardt of the Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance (GCTCA).  The GCTCA is challenging the City’s budget process as well as asking questions about the basis for some of the service price increases including the electricity price increase for the 2012 / 13 financial year.

Henri Wolfaardt queried the City surcharge of R900 million on electricity sold by the City and s well an apparent budgeting for a profit from the sale electricity of R1.2 Billion.  Ian Neilson explained the basis for this as follows:  In accordance with the principle of good services being a driver for positive economic growth, the city includes the costs of extending and maintaining Cape Town’s electricity infrastructure in the price to consumers.  In addition to this, the City is aiming for a 10 % levy on electricity sales as a source of additional revenue. Without this levy, rate payers would be required to pay more rates to make up the shortfall between the City’s income and expenditure.  The levy on electricity is considered to be one way of ensuring a broader base of Capetonians sharing the load.  In view of the 50kWh per month free electricity and lower tariff paid by the more economical households, is this system an undue burden on the poor?  

Moving toward energy efficiency at home.

For the overwhelming majority of Cape Townians, reducing your electricity consumption to 450kWh per month is entirely doable.

My family is a case in point – a family of four, including two teenagers, who live in a larger than average home and have managed to reduce our consumption to the Lifeline tariff.  Although reduced costs are a welcome bonus, for us Lifeline is about living in a way that provides a Lifeline for future generations.  In Summer we use well below 450kWh and manage to accumulate units on our electricity meter to balance our family’s increased energy needs in Winter.

How we save electricity.

1. We don’t have a pool. If you have a pool, hibernate it in Winter and reduce the hours that the pump works in Summer.

2. Our old electric geyser was set to 55 Degrees

3. We have installed a new Solar Energy geyser.

4. The geyser and the hot-water pipes have been so well insulated that they loose very little heat.  

5. We do not use electric space heating, but dress warmly and use our fire place on particularly cold evenings to warm the house.

6. We have insulated the ceilings of our home with insulation made from fire proof recycled cardboard.

7. We use heavy bottomed pots that cook efficiently, a smallish convection / microwave oven for everyday cooking and a `hay box’  built into a drawer in the kitchen.

8. The washing machine washes clothes at 40 Degrees and we wind dry our washing.

9. Much to our teenagers regret, the dishwasher is fast becoming a white elephant with the exception of particularly busy days and parties. 

10. Our indoor lighting is all low energy and more recently some lights are powered by batteries charged by photovoltaic cells.

The good news is that we are not suffering from withdrawal symptoms caused by trying to beat the `energy addiction’.  While some of our lifestyle changes may not be considered `cool’ by the standards of let-your-mod-cons-do-it-all, my husband and I know (the teenagers are still being persuaded) that we are being really COOL for our one and only Planet EARTH and our children’s future.

Please send in your `Cool’ for the Earth energy saving tips so that we can share the learning. To email them click here

For information from the City about Energy Saving go to: .

City of Cape Town Electricity Enquiries

For enquiries about electricity accounts or the pay as you go tariff structure phone the City of Cape Town at: 0860 103 089  or toll free at 0800 220 440 (choose the menu selection for account and general queries).  E-mail:   Fax: 086 010 3090.  The account number being queried must be provided.  This service is operational on Mondays to Fridays – 07:00 to 21:00, Saturdays – 08:00 to 14:00, and Sundays and public holidays – 09:00 to 13:00.

Power Failures and Street Lighting faults:

Power failures and street lighting faults should be reported to the Electricity Technical Operation Centre (TOC) on any one of the following channels – these channels are monitored 24 hours a day.  Telephone: 086 010 3089 (choose the menu selection for electricity faults)  E-mail:    SMS: 31220   Fax: 086 576 1910

General Electricity Queries:

Any general electricity queries may be forwarded to which is monitored during office hours.