At-cost power bills get ministry nod
Relief for large and mid-sized companies
The Energy Ministry approved a plan on Thursday to charge mid-sized and large businesses for electricity at cost instead of mandatory minimum pricing from April to June, another relief measure to help shuttered companies with their power bills.
The decision came after calls from the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) and the Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) urging the government to help mid-sized and large businesses being overcharged by the current cost structure while they are shuttered during the outbreak.
The FTI and the TCC asked the government to charge at cost until the end of the year because it may take until early next year before business operations return to normal.
Energy Minister Sontirat Sonthijirawong said the special committee to oversee assisting businesses approved the measure on Thursday, allowing businesses to pay the real rate of electricity usage, but it still must be approved by the cabinet.
The existing minimum charge is based on the average consumption per month of a business over the last 12 months. The state grid will set conditions that the business be charged that rate at a minimum each month.
Mr Sontirat said many businesses have shut down operations because of the outbreak, making the rate unsuitable, particularly for vacant hotels and resorts.
The real cost minimum charge runs from this April to June.
There are 104,940 registered medium-sized businesses on the state grid, 23,921 in Bangkok and the remaining 81,019 firms outside the city. There are 9,513 large firms, 2,421 in Bangkok and 7,092 outside.
The change in pricing only applies to medium-sized and large firms because small businesses already receive their cash deposit back from the state electricity agencies when they return electricity meter deposits.
The FTI and the TCC also called for a return of expenses for registered power users on the state grid whose expenses range from 12,000-24,000 baht for meters with over 30 amperes.
Mr Sontirat said the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) will study whether to extend the new payment structure to the end of the year and to approve returning expenses for registered power users.
He said businesses have asked the state to delay power bill payments to let them maintain liquidity, particularly hotels and resorts suffering from high vacancies.
He said the FTI and the TCC will compile a list of what kinds of firms need their power bills delayed and submit it to the ERC for consideration.