PM Prayut vows to unearth new sources of alternative energy, lower summer bills

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Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has announced that the government is intensifying its efforts to discover new sources of alternative energy in response to complaints about rising electricity bills during the summer months.

His statement comes in reaction to social media outrage and calls for the government to take further steps to reduce people’s energy expenses. He said…

“It is crucial to examine why bills are increasing. The issue is complex, involving production costs and management. We will explore potential actions. Rest assured, I will personally oversee the matter.”

He added that electricity rates are connected to long-standing business operations and contractual commitments.

“However, the government will endeavour to ensure no one is disadvantaged.”

He further stated that the government has been attempting to identify and promote more affordable energy sources, such as renewable energy, and encourage local communities and households to utilise solar cells to capture sunlight and convert it into electricity.

“We should also consider the energy prices and petrol prices in other nations. But we shouldn’t compare ours with countries that possess their energy sources.

“Thailand is still required to purchase energy from abroad due to the declining domestic natural gas supply in the Gulf of Thailand. We need to import energy from Myanmar or Malaysia.

“Therefore, it is essential to intensify our efforts to explore alternative energy sources. This may not happen immediately, but we are making significant progress.”

Social media users have posted pictures of their expensive bills, with one Facebook user sharing that in April of last year, he was infected with Covid-19 and self-isolated at home for 16 days, using two air-conditioners alternately. His electricity bill for that month was 1,348 baht. The PM said…

“However, this April, I used electricity as per usual and took five days off during the Songkran holiday, but the power bill was 2,060 baht.”

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) recently decided to enforce a single electricity bill rate from May to August.

This new rate will make electricity bills more affordable for companies but more costly for households and will be particularly unwelcome news amidst the scorching heat of the summer.

Under the new rate, 4.77 baht per kilowatt-hour will now be charged, which is lower than the current rate companies pay from January to April at 5.33 baht per unit, but a rise from 4.72 baht per unit for households.

The ERC conducted online surveys between March 10–20 in support of this decision.

However, the move has faced significant criticism for favouring the industrial sector, as the revised rates will enable businesses to save 10% on their bills while households will experience a 1% increase in electricity fees, according to observers.

The rise of the “fuel adjustment tariff,” or Ft, by 5% during the May-August period, is the primary factor. At the same time, the Ft related to power use by the industry is anticipated to decrease by 30%.

The government and ERC have justified the higher Ft rate for households from May to August, stating they have already provided a 3.2-billion-baht subsidy for vulnerable groups, such as low-income earners and households consuming less than 300 units.

Mingkwan Sangsuwan, a member of the Palang Pracharath Party’s strategy committee, said the committee agreed with a campaign promise to reduce the rate to 2.50 baht per unit for households and 2.70 baht for the industrial sector by revising concession contracts for natural gas production in the Gulf of Thailand.

Sirikanya Tansakun, deputy leader of the Move Forward Party, stated that the party would cut power bills by 70 satang per unit by utilising the mechanisms of the ERC. It would also enable consumers to shop around and buy from other suppliers, not just Egat.

Two weeks ago, tensions rose in Thailand as the JSCCIB urged PM Prayut to reconsider electricity bill calculations and reduce power tariffs amid soaring prices.

Economy NewsNewsThailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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