Pretoria — A public hearing into Eskom's application for a tariff increase for electricity was adjourned on Wednesday following a disruption, said the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa).
"The public hearing was adjourned due to disruption by members of the National Union of Metal Workers (NUMSA) inside the venue," said the Regulator of the Port Elizabeth hearing.
However, the union said it was as surprised as Nersa "when members of the public stormed inside the hearing venue". In a statement, the union's Castro Ngobese said the disruption was not sanctioned by the union.
According to Nersa, the union is demanding that the regulator conduct seven public hearings in seven districts of the Eastern Cape.
"Nersa is seriously concerned about the action taken by Numsa members that seeks to prevent the Energy Regulator from implementing its mandate and denying stakeholders and the public to exercise their democratic right."
The regulator further added that it had received correspondence from the union showing that the union had been granted permission to picket outside the public hearing venue.
"Nersa will continue to conduct the public hearings in other provinces. The continuation of the public hearings in the Eastern Cape will be announced in due course," it said.
In October Eskom asked the regulator for a total 16% tariff increase over the next five years. The utility is asking the regulator for 13% for each of the five years for its own needs, plus 3% to support the introduction of Independent Power Producers (IPPs).
The current Multi-Year Price Determination, MYPD 2, comes to an end in March 2013.
The public hearings into Eskom's request kicked off on Tuesday and will conclude on 31 January 2013.