Golam Mostafa Jibon: The wholesale price of electricity is going to increase in the month of October. Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) is bringing this announcement to increase the price after estimating the annual subsidy amount of the government in this sector.
The new rates will be effective from October. However, despite the increase in the wholesale price, the retail price of electricity is not increasing for the time being. In other words, the distribution companies will buy electricity from PDB at an increased price from October. They will propose a retail price hike, justifying the cost increase. After hearings on that proposal, consumer-level electricity prices may rise early next year. This information is known from the sources of BERC and Electricity Department.
A BERC official said that, it has been decided to increase the wholesale price of electricity up to 15 percent. Government consent has also been obtained. However, depending on the amount of subsidy, the price increase may be more or less 15 percent. BERC had initially decided on a 15-20 percent hike, but it is now trying to keep it within 10 percent. After receiving the final signal from the government, the price will be adjusted accordingly and announced.
The official also said that, the price will be announced next Thursday or in the middle of next week. The new rates will be effective from October 1.
BERC has a legal obligation under the Act to issue an order on rate adjustment within 90 working days of the public hearing. A public hearing was held on May 18 to increase the wholesale price of electricity. After that hearing, there were 9, 22, 19, 20 and 21 official working days in May, June, July, August and September respectively. Accordingly, 90 working days are completed on September 28. Abdul Jalil, Chairman of BERC said, “There is a deadline to decide on the price hike by the first week of October. Wholesale prices will be announced within this period. The distribution companies did not propose a price hike. So, retail prices at consumer level will not increase immediately. If the distribution company applies, action will be taken as per rules.”
Market analysts said that, fuel oil prices have increased recently. Gas prices have increased. Prices of other daily necessities are also on the rise. Most people are disoriented by the pressure of price increase. In the meantime, if the retail price of electricity is increased, another big blow will come to the people and industry. The fear of people to be jobless will increase. Many people will be poor. The poor will be poorest.
However, the increase in the price of electricity is not justified, said energy expert Dr. Shamsul Alam, Senior Vice-President of the consumer rights organization-CAB. He said, “Diesel-run power plants are closed or production is reduced due to high cost. For the same reason, LNG import from the spot market has remained stopped. People are going through load shedding. In this situation, there is no reason to increase the price of electricity. Rather, if the authorities are able to reduce wastage, it can help to reduce the price.”
The top officials of several distribution companies said that, BERC wanted to announce the increase in retail prices along with the announcement of wholesale price increase. But they don’t want to make that announcement before the wholesale price hike. They will then request a retail price increase, adjusted to the rate at which the wholesale price will increase.
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