Elderly man hit with 10,000 baht electricity bill in central Thailand

An 88 year old man from Kamphaeng Phet province in central Thailand couldn’t believe his eyes when his most recent electricity bill amounted to almost 10,000 baht. Family members and neighbours are contesting the bill on behalf of the old man, who had to take out a loan to pay for his electricity this month.

Grandpa’s bill from the Metropolitan Electricity Authority said that his household of three people used 1,976 units of electricity in July, amounting to 9,177 baht in total. His family contacted the MEA to confirm if the bill was correct, which they said it was. Normally, the house uses only 158 to 200 units.

The elderly man lives with his niece, 57 year old Plernpit Li, and her son. Plernpit said she sells milk for a living and her income is unstable, earning around 300 baht per day. Plernpit said the household depends on Grandpa’s pension to pay for the electricity, but the bill was far too high for the pensioner to cover this month.

Grandpa requested if he could pay the bill in installments over five months, but the MEA refused. The MEA said if Grandpa wants to pay in installments he would have to pay the bill over the space of three months.

Plernpit said that Grandpa still couldn’t afford it, but was scared that the electricity would be cut off if he didn’t pay, so he took out an “informal” loan so he could meet the MEA’s requests. The family is now in big trouble, said Plernpit.

A representative from the MEA went to the Grandpa’s house to investigate the extortionate bill. The MEA found no faults with the electricity meter itself but expects that the bill shot upwards due to power leaks.

The house’s roof is made from steel and wires lay on the roof are exposed in various places, which could cause electricity to leak out, said Sanae Wonthip, an employee of the MEA in Kamphaeng Province.

A technician will visit the house to fix the leaks so hopefully, the bill won’t be this high again. But, the MEA said Grandpa is still required to pay the 9,177 baht this time.

The price of electricity in Thailand is steadily rising and becoming unaffordable for even those without power leaks. By September, electricity could rise to 5 baht per unit in Thailand for the first time, according to the Energy Regulatory Commission.

The steep rise in electricity bills is due to the rising price of imported gas used to generate electricity, which is out of Thailand’s control. Since the Erawan gas field in the Gulf of Thailand was taken over by a new concessionaire, more of Thailand’s stocks of natural gas are being exported, forcing Thailand to import expensive gas instead of using its resources.

One man in northern Thailand isn’t worried, because he holds the secret to a 44 baht electricity bill, even with the air conditioning turned on 24 hours a day.


Thailand News


Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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