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BPDB: Retail power tariff hike a must if bulk prices rise

  • Published at 11:38 pm December 1st, 2019
Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB)
High-ups of the leading electricity company of the company claims at a mass hearing on the proposal to hike retail power tariff, at the TCB Auditorium in Dhaka on Sunday, December 1, 2019 Dhaka Tribune

BPDB General Manager (Commercial Operation) Md Kausar Ameer Ali said they just want the prices at the retail level to be ‘adjusted’ in line with the potential bulk tariff hike

Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) has said there is no alternative to raising retail power tariff if the bulk prices and transmission or wheeling charges are pushed up from January 1, 2020.

High-ups of the leading electricity company of the company claimed at a mass hearing on the proposal to hike retail power tariff, at the TCB Auditorium in Dhaka on Sunday.

BPDB General Manager (Commercial Operation) Md Kausar Ameer Ali said they just want the prices at the retail level to be ‘adjusted’ in line with the potential bulk tariff hike.

“We are not seeking an increase in retail prices. Instead, we would like the prices to be adjusted since there will be no way left (except raising retail prices) if the bulk tariff and transmission charges go up,” he said.

The BPDB official, however, claimed that they were rather minimising the maintenance and other costs in power generation.

The BPDB’s distribution charge was Tk1.09/kilo-watt hour (kWh) in the 2018-19 fiscal year, which has been proposed to be set to Tk1.05 kWh from next January.

However, the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC), to which the proposal was placed, recommended a Tk1.03 distribution charge for retail consumers. 

“Our proposal depicts that we want to lower power tariff. But if the bulk prices are hiked, we will have nothing to do instead of going for an increased retail tariff,” he said.

On Thursday, the first day of a four-day mass hearing on power tariff hike proposals, the BPDB sought a 23.28% rise in bulk prices from 2020 to tackle the massive potential financial deficit. 

Northern Electricity Supply Company Limited (Nesco), in its tariff hike proposal heard on Sunday afternoon, sought a 13.91% hike in distribution charge to Tk1.31kWh, up from the existing Tk1.15kWh.

Nesco officials told the hearing that quality service, repaying loans, massive outstanding bills, infrastructural development, and expansion of manpower are among the major reasons that prompted them to seek the hike.

They also said the bulk prices, if increased, will ultimately push up the retail tariff. 

Consumers' Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Energy Adviser Prof Dr M Shamsul Alam asked the BPDB if metres can be installed for the low-income and marginal people living in cities, to help them pay according to their consumption.

“Usually in slums, several household users pay a fixed amount of electricity bill. They are overcharged against the reading from a single metre,” he said, raising 21 questions against the BPDB’s proposal.

In their reply, BPDB officials said separate power metres can be installed in slums.    

Citing that local government bodies including municipalities and city corporations owe a mammoth sum of outstanding bills, he argued: “If a slum dweller fails to pay due bills timely, power supply to his/her residence is snapped. But why does not the same apply for local government offices?”

Hearing sans controversial BERC member lauded

Despite facing an arrest warrant in a graft case, BERC member Abdul Aziz Khan had attended the first day’s hearings. But since his presence garnered a massive outcry during the two hearings that day, he did not attend Sunday’s hearing.

CAB leader Shamsul Alam, Bangladesh Labour Party Chairman Mustafizur Rahman Iran and BNP leader Syed Moazzem Hossain Alal, said the opening day of the hearing was questionable due to the presence of Aziz. 

But his refraining from attending Sunday’s hearings was a good move, they said.