BERC to seek increase or subsidy from FebManjurul Ahsan
The Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission is likely request the government either to allow an increase in power prices at consumer level or to give more subsidy beginning in February.
The commission could meet the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, in the next week.
‘The commission is busy doing some fine-tuning to its judgement regarding power price increase,’ a commission official told New Age.
The commission estimated that the power distribution agencies will either need about Tk 800 crore in subsidy or they will be allowed to increase prices to break even in marketing electricity.
Dhaka Electric Supply Company, one of the five distribution agencies, will be making profit and others will break even, a BERC official said, if one of the two options are selected.
If the government gives the subsidy, consumers will not need to pay additional bill after the September 2012 increase.
The official also said that the commission would discuss the matter with the prime minister, who is also the minister of power and energy, before the commission announces its judgement.
Amid strong criticism, the commission is likely to make power tariff for rural household consumers, which is high for the first four slabs, equal to that for urban household consumers.
Experts and left-democratic forces have for long been demanding uniform tariff for both rural and urban consumers to remove the disparity in development and state services.
Household consumers under the associations of the Rural Electrification Board pay up to 44 per cent more in the first four slabs, each of 100MW/hour, than urban consumers pay.
In the past two years, the commission has rationalised the power tariff for other slabs in urban and rural areas in phases.
The commission chairman, Md Emdadul Huque, told New Age that the commission would complete the process by the end of this week.
According to findings of the commission’s staff committee, Dhaka Power Distribution Company will need
Tk 161.86 crore in subsidy or to increase average power prices by 3.65 per cent, Dhaka Electric Supply Company will need Tk 80.46 crore in subsidy or to increase prices by 3.30 per cent, West Zone Power Distribution Company will need Tk 51.73 crore in subsidy or to increase prices by 4.15 per cent and the Power Development Board will need Tk 254.72 crore in subsidy or to increase prices by 4.84 per cent for a break-even.
The commission is examining a revised REB proposal of increase in average power prices by 8.5 per cent or Tk 632.32 crore in subsidy a year.
But a commission official said that the REB would need about Tk 260 crore in subsidy or an increase in power prices by 3.50 per cent.
In December 2012, the commission held public hearings on proposals of the power distribution agencies for price increase by up to 12 per cent on an average even after the September 2012 increase saying that they, otherwise, would incur losses.
The commission on September 20 increased average retail prices by 15 per cent on an interim basis against an increase in the bulk price by 16.92 per cent on an average, effective from September 2012.
With the latest round after February 2011, the commission has so far
increased retail prices by 43.75 per cent on an
average in six phases — from Tk 4 a unit to Tk 5.75 a unit.
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