Energy authorities are working to cap next year's power tariff at 4.1 baht per kilowatt-hour (unit) as suggested by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, who disagrees with an earlier proposal to increase the rate to 4.68 baht per unit, says Energy Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga.
The premier wants to continue a policy to curb electricity prices for households and businesses.
The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) on Nov 30 approved increasing the power tariff, applicable between January and April 2024, by 17.3% to 4.68 baht a unit, up from 3.99 baht a unit at present.
The increase results from a hike in fuel costs and the need to reimburse the state-operated Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat), according to the ERC.
The commission said it needs to increase the fuel tariff, or Ft, a key component of the power tariff, by 34% to 0.89 baht a unit, up from 0.66 baht a unit.
Part of the power bills would be paid to Egat, which has shouldered huge losses after it subsidised electricity bills between September 2021 and May 2023, easing the impact of higher fuel prices for households and businesses.
Mr Pirapan said if the power tariff is reduced to 4.1 baht a unit, the government needs to extend the period to pay Egat.
The authorities are scheduled to pay 95.8 billion baht to Egat over 24 months. Under the 4.1-baht power tariff proposal, the payment period increases to 28 months.
The power tariff reduction also requires energy officials to adjust the natural gas price structure and ask PTT Plc, the sole gas seller in the country, to set a new sales price.
Gas accounts for 60% of fuels used for power generation in Thailand.
Mr Pirapan said officials are planning to help households who use less than 300 units a month by maintaining the power tariff at 3.99 baht a unit for them.
He said the cabinet will be asked to approve this aid measure, which requires a budget of 2 billion baht to subsidise electricity prices for 17.7 million households nationwide.
In another development, the Energy Ministry plans to launch a "green fuel" programme that avoids taxes for farmers, allowing them to buy diesel at inexpensive prices.
If the diesel excise tax is waived, the retail price decreases to 19 baht a litre.
The diesel excise tax is currently 3.5 baht a litre.