Understanding your electricity bill, tarrifs

Here are the three main reasons why the amount of electricity you get from a given amount purchased may differ. electricity bill..

Do you feel lost about your municipality’s electricity tariffs? Have you purchased the usual amount of prepaid electricity but haven’t got the same amount of units, and do not understand why? Here are the three main reasons why the amount of units you get from a given amount purchased may differ.


Powertime helps you shed light on your electricity purchases in order to better monitor and control your power consumption and expenses.


Service fees

Some municipalities charge their users a fixed monthly service fee independent from your consumption.

This service fee is deducted from your first purchase of the month and is payable whether you consume electricity or not.

If you do not purchase electricity for one or several months, service fees accumulate and are deducted from your following purchase.

This service fee is set at municipal level and therefore applicable wherever you purchase electricity.

Example: If your municipality applies a R30 monthly service fee, your first purchase of the month for R200 will only enable you to obtain units for R170.


Free Basic Electricity

For households regarded as “disadvantaged” by their municipality, government provides Free Basic Electricity (FBE) in order to allow those households to access basic lighting, cooking and access to basic media (TV and radio) for free. The amount granted is 50kWh per household per month.

Powertime is a service provider for municipalities and therefore offer FBE via its system. If you are eligible to FBE, we will deliver the free units to you with your first purchase of the month.


If you are eligible for FBE and consume 200 kWh per month, with a tariff of R0.95 per kWh, you will pay:

50 * R0 + 150 * R0.95 = R142.5

Find more information on FBE on the following links: 


Inclined Block tariff

Block or step tariffs are implemented by most municipalities. Those tariffs enable municipalities to charge high consumers at higher rates and low consumers at lower rates. The more you purchase in a calendar month, the more you will have to pay per unit. This system tends to favour and reward low consumers and energy savvies.

When you request a token on Powertime, the Powertime system connects to the municipality’s vending system to request the token. Tokens are generated directly by the municipality, who applies the relevant tariff.


City of Cape Town


Consumption (kWh)

Tariff (R/kWh)


≤ 600



> 600



Johannesburg City Power

Block Consumption (kWh) Tariff (R/kWh)


< 500












> 3000




If you live in Johannesburg and purchase 400 units (kWh) at the beginning of the month, those units will cost you:
400 * R0.9426 = R377.04.

Then if later in the same calendar month you purchase 200 units, those will cost you:
100 * 0.9426 + 100 * 1.0709 = 94.26 + 107.09 = 201.35.

The more you consume, the more you pay per unit!


Does my tariff change depending on where I buy electricity?

Wherever you buy your electricity token, the tariff that applies is the one set by the municipality. All point of sales and online resellers therefore charge the same price.

Are you still lost?

Check our FAQ

Or contact us at support@powertime.co.za.

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