He was responding to criticism on social media and calls for the government to do more to cut people’s energy costs, reports the Bangkok Post.
“We have to consider why the bills go up. It is a complicated issue involving production costs and management,” Prayut said.
“We will look at things that can be done. Don’t worry. I’ll see to it myself.”
He added that electricity rates involve business operations and contractual obligations that have existed for a long time. “But the government will try to ensure no one is disadvantaged.”
He went on to say that the government has been trying to find and promote the use of cheaper sources of energy, such as renewable energy, and encourage local communities and households to use solar cells to catch sunlight and convert it into electricity.
“We should also look at the energy prices and gasoline prices in other countries. But don’t compare ours with countries that have their own energy sources.
“Thailand still has to buy energy from other countries because the domestic natural gas supply in the Gulf of Thailand is declining. We have to import energy from Myanmar or Malaysia.
“So, we have to step up efforts to find other alternative sources of energy. It won’t happen very soon, but we are making much progress,” Prayut said.
Netizens on social media have posted pictures of their pricey bills with one Facebook user saying 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. The electricity bill for that month was B1,348.
“But this April, I used electricity as usual and took five days off during the Songkran holiday, but the power bill was 2,060 baht,” he said.
The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) recently decided to impose a single electricity bill rate between May and August.
This will make electricity bills cheaper for businesses but more expensive for households and will come as particularly unwelcome news during the ferocious heat of the summer.
The new rate will be B4.77 per kilowatt-hour, which is lower than the current rate businesses are charged from January to April at B5.33 per unit, but an increase from B4.72 per unit for households.
The ERC conducted online surveys from March 10–20 to gather opinions in support of its decision.
However, the move has come under heavy criticism for favouring the industrial sector, as the revised rates will enable businesses to save 10% on their bills while households will face a 1% increase in electricity fees, according to observers.
The underlying factor is the rise of the “fuel adjustment tariff”, known as Ft, by 5% during the May-August period, while the Ft associated with power use by industry is expected to dip by 30%.
The government and ERC justified the higher Ft rate for households from May to August by saying it had already provided a B3.2-billion subsidy for vulnerable groups - such as low-income earning groups 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 pledge to reduce the rate to B2.50 per unit for households and B2.70 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, said the party would cut power bills by 70 satang per unit by using the mechanisms of the ERC. It would also allow consumers to shop around and buy from other suppliers, not just Egat.
DeKaaskopp | 21 April 2023 - 09:55:56