Power bills are set to increase by 4.6% from January to April next year to an average of 3.78 baht per kilowatt hour (unit) as Thailand needs to import costly liquefied natural gas (LNG) for electricity generation, says the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).
The state measure to put a cap on electricity bills to relieve people's living costs, which has been implemented over the past two years, will come to an end as LNG prices in the global market increase.
The electricity rate remained at 3.64 baht per unit since 2019 before declining to 3.61 baht per unit last year and still being in use through 2021.
Fuel tariff (Ft), which is used to calculate electricity bills, has been in the negative territory since 2017, ranging between -0.11 and -0.37 baht a unit.
From January to April next year, the Ft rate will be 0.139 baht a unit, according to the ERC.
The period is the first adjustment of the Ft in 2022.
Officers adjust the Ft every four months, basing their calculation on foreign exchange rates, power consumption and fuel costs.
Khomgrich Tantravanich, secretary-general of the ERC, said Thailand has to import more LNG due to the shortage of natural gas supply in the Gulf of Thailand.
The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) also needs more LNG as electricity sold to Egat by many hydroelectric power plants in Laos decreased and Egat also retired its Mae Moh coal-fired power plant, which produced electricity at a low cost.
Natural gas makes up almost 60% of fuels used to produce electricity in the country.
Thailand has to import LNG at high prices from the spot market, eventually leading to an increase in power bills.
Changes in natural gas prices usually occur 3-6 months after changes in crude oil prices.
During the first Ft period (January to April) next year, the ERC expects global oil prices to decrease to US$70 per barrel, down from $80 per barrel at present, while the pool price of natural gas is estimated at 340 baht per metric million British thermal unit, up from 230 at present.
Mr Khomgrich said the increase in Ft will be gradually made to avoid an impact on the business sector.