The Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday once again increased the prices of electricity by 5.3 per cent on an average at consumer level with effect from December 1.
Ignoring all the arguments of consumers and experts for rather decreasing the power prices, the commission raised the retail power prices keeping the net bulk electricity price unchanged.
The commission also asked the government to provide Tk 3,600 crore in subsidy to the state-run Power Development Board for the ‘losses’ it would incur in the next one year.
Earlier, it raised the average retail price of electricity by 2.93 per cent and the bulk price by 3.64 per cent with effect from September 1, 2015.
The commission chairman Monowar Islam, accompanied by four other commission members, announced the tariff order at a press conference at its office in Dhaka.
He attributed the increase in retail prices of electricity to the rise in the operation cost of the power distribution utilities.
Consumers Association of Bangladesh energy adviser M Shamsul Alam, also an electrical engineer, told New Age on Thursday that the commission unlawfully raised the prices as the power distribution utilities had
increased their operational cost by increasing salaries and other benefits of their staff.
Before increasing salaries, the utilities should have taken approval from the energy commission through public hearing as the salary hike increased power distribution costs, he explained.
He warned that they would go to the High Court for justice.
Socialist Party of Bangladesh called a nationwide strike for November 30 if the commission did not scrap the tariff order.
With the latest hike, the commission, during the Awami League-led government’s two successive tenures, has raised the average retail price of electricity by 81.91 per cent, up from Tk 3.76 per kilowatt-hour or unit to Tk 6.84, in nine phases since March 2010.
Monowar said that about three million power consumers, who consume up to 15 units of electricity a month, would need to pay less than they pay now as the commission exempted them from paying the ‘minimum charge.’
Until now, the marginal power consumers, 13 per cent of the total consumers, are charged Tk 90 per month in Rural Electrification Board areas and Tk 100 per month under the power board’s distribution areas even after they consume electricity worth less than the amount.
The commission, however, raised the power tariff for lifeline consumers, consuming up to 50 units a month, by up to 5.1 per cent to Tk 3.50 per unit.
According to the new tariff, household consumers of all power distribution utilities using less than 75 units a month will need to pay Tk 4.00 a unit, up by 5.26 per cent from Tk 3.80 a unit.
The commission raised power prices to Tk 5.45 per unit (6.03 per cent up from Tk 5.14) for using 76-200 units a month, Tk 5.70 a unit (5.96 per cent up from Tk 5.36) for consuming 201-300 units a month, Tk 6.02 a unit (6.93 per cent up from Tk 5.63) for consuming 301-400 units a month, Tk 9.30 a unit (6.90 per cent up from Tk 8.70) for consuming 401-600 units a month and Tk 10.70 per unit (7.21 per cent up from Tk 9.98) for consuming 601 or more units a month.
The price was also increased for electric irrigation pump owners to Tk 4 a unit, 4.70 per cent up from Tk 3.82 a unit.
The price of electricity at small industries was increased to Tk 8.20 a unit, 7.10 per cent up from Tk 7.66 a unit at flat rate.
The prices were also increased for other industrial users to Tk 8.15 a unit (7.66 per cent up from Tk 7.57) for the users of 11kV lines, Tk 8.05 a unit (7.48 per cent up from Tk 7.49) for 33kV lines, Tk 7.90 a unit (8.16 per cent up from Tk 7.96) for 132kV lines and Tk 7.90 a unit (8.97 per cent up from Tk 7.25) at flat rates.
Commercial and office users will need to pay Tk 10.30 a unit, up from Tk 9.80 a unit, at flat rate.
The energy commission also created separate categories for power-driven vehicles and construction sites.
The power tariff was set at Tk 7.70 a unit for power-driven vehicles, equal to the tariff applicable for street lights and water pumps in public use.