Thailand Consumers Council urges government to lower fuel tariff and promote home solar panels use

Photo Courtesy Bangkok Post

The Thailand Consumers Council (TCC) is urging the government to consider lowering the fuel tariff (Ft) amid mounting complaints about high electricity bills while suggesting that the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) promote the use of domestic solar panels to help address the problem.

Itthaboon Onwongsa, TCC deputy secretary, noted during a seminar discussing recent increases in power costs, that the way Thailand generates its electricity is partly to blame for the recent spikes observed by households and industries.

Onwongsa explained that the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat), despite its name, only produces approximately 34-35% of the electricity used in the country. The remaining electricity has to be purchased from various private companies, which Egat then resells to the Metropolitan Electricity Authority and Provincial Electricity Authority.

“The government must review its contracts with private companies, and in the meantime, it should call off the construction of new private power plants,” Onwongsa said.

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Prasat Meetam, president of the Sub-Committee for Public Services, Energy and Environment, pointed out that Thailand reviews the Ft rate once every four months, whereas Malaysia does this every month, reports Bangkok Post.

“The power cost for a 500-kilowatt hour [unit] in Thailand is 2,638 baht, while in Malaysia, it is only around 1,292 baht,” he said.

The TCC also called on the government to take immediate action to reduce power bills. It said the Office of the Energy Regulatory Commission should base its Ft rate calculation on actual usage instead of forecast usage.

Additionally, the Ministry of Energy should restructure the price of gas used for electricity generation in the country by including the amount of gas supplied to Gas Separation Plants (GSPs) and the petrochemical industry. The TCC claims doing so could bring down the rate to 0.23-0.25 baht per unit, saving around 40-50 billion baht per year.

The TCC also suggested the Energy Ministry order PTT Plc to subsidize Egat’s natural gas supply using revenues from the GSPs.

The ERC should promote solar panels at home and encourage users to enable “net metering,” a tool that “stores” the excess energy produced.

Chalie Charoenlarpnopparut, a member of the Sub-Committee for Public Services, Energy and Environment, said electricity overproduction in Thailand stems from the Loss of Load Expectation (LOLE).

The standard LOLE is 24 hours per year, but Thailand’s rate is 16.8 hours per year.

Charoenlarpnopparut said the public still must pay to maintain power plants, even when they are not operational. Between January and April, 6.1 billion baht was paid to maintain two suspended power plants.

Thailand 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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