Outrage as energy bills rise for households, drop for industry

PHOTO: Former Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij says it's wrong for energy bills to increase for households while falling for businesses. (via BKK Post)

The government has come under fire for its latest revision of electricity pricing, with accusations that it will reduce energy bills for various industries but raise those of households. The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has decided to increase power bills for households from 4.72 baht per kilowatt-hour (unit) to 4.77 baht. Industry will also be charged 4.77 baht, but that’s a reduction from 5.33 baht per unit now.

The higher energy cost is set to come into effect during the May-August billing period. That’s a particularly rough time for household energy, as electricity consumption peaks during the summer months.

The ERC falls under the Energy Policy and Planning Office, chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. Korn Chatikavanij, former finance minister and leader of the Chartpattanakla Party, has accused the government of catering to industry interests at the expense of the little guy, especially during the hot peak summertime.

“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 power bills in this way. 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 explained that the main cost of producing electricity is liquefied natural gas (LNG). Not only has the price of LNG been dropping steadily, Thailand’s strong baht results in favourable import rates. So with energy costs falling, why are bills rising?

The main cause is an increase in the fuel tariff, which rises for households by 5% during the May-August period. At the same time, the industry uses fuel tariff associated with is expected to dip by 30% during that period.

Korn has called for a change in how energy bills are calculated and more input from the public at large before price hikes.

The government has also come under fire for rushing through a new energy contract just before the House was dissolved. A potential Move Forward Party MP candidate complained that the decision awarded a 29-year contract with very little time for consideration. It granted capacity expansion to the company and a guarantee that the government will buy energy from the large energy company for the next three decades.

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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