Power bills go up for households, while industry enjoys a cut

Power bills go up for households, while industry enjoys a cut

Chartpattanakla Party leader Korn Chatikavanij.
Chartpattanakla Party leader Korn Chatikavanij.

The government is catering to the interests of industry by lowering electricity bills for them while hiking the rate for households, according to Korn Chatikavanij, leader of the Chartpattanakla Party.

The party called in the media in Bangkok on Saturday to lambast the state's latest revision of electricity pricing which it said will reduce the bills for various industries but raise those of households.

Mr Korn said the higher power cost, set to be reflected in the May-August billing period, was coming at a bad time as electricity consumption peaks during the summer months.

The government chose to push up bills during this period, which aggravates the people's plight, he said.

Mr Korn, a former finance minister, said the Chartpattanakla Party was baffled by the announcement of the electricity price hike imposed by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) under the Energy Policy and Plannning Office chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The ERC has decided to increase power bills for households from 4.72 baht per kilowatt-hour (unit) to 4.77 baht. However, industry will see a drop in power costs from 5.33 baht per unit to 4.77 baht.

The main driver of higher bills for households is the rise in the fuel tariff (Ft) by 5% during the May-August period. At the same time, the Ft associated with power use by industry is expected to dip by 30% during the period.

"This goes to show the government couldn't care less about people's grievances, while coming out on the side of industry.

"We fail to see the rationale or the necessity to revise up power bills in this way," Mr Korn said.

In fact, the main cost of producing electricity is liquefied natural gas (LNG), the price of which has come down steadily. In addition, LNG is imported at favourable rates thanks to the stronger baht, he said.

Looking at it from the point of view of both the cost and exchange rate, there was no reason for raising power bills.

"Now is not the time to weigh people down with a bigger burden by charging them more when they can't escape the need to use lots of electricity," he added.

The method of calculating energy costs must be revamped, Mr Korn said, adding that before each round of price increase, the government should listen to what people have to say.

Meanwhile, the Move Forward Party (MFP) has criticised the government for its "last-ditch" approval of a project allegedly awarding a large energy company the right to expand electricity generation capacity.

Worapob Wiriyaroj, a potential list MP candidate for the party, said the approval came with a contract to buy electricity from the company for the next 29 years, and was made hastily before the House dissolution.

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