It is not yet clear if it will benefit electricity consumers

Tashi Dema

Do not be surprised if you receive a letter from Bhutan Power Corporation (BPC) along with your monthly electricity bill.

BPC board and management had approved its meter readers to reissue the electricity bill for the month of January and February, splitting the bill into two so that consumers could avail the block tariff advantages from today.

The meter readers will also distribute a letter, which would basically explain or clarify the electricity bill generation for the two months because of average billing system the corporation resorted to during the nationwide lockdown.

BPC’s chief executive officer, Sonam Tobjey, said they were revising the bill of every consumer to provide the exact energy consumption.

He said the meter readers would take the actual energy consumption from the last reading until the opening of the second nationwide lockdown.

Sonam Tobjey explained they conducted an analysis of the energy consumption and the letter would clarify the bill calculation.

Kuensel, however, learnt that by splitting the bill into two, there will not be much difference in the bill, as the energy consumption would remain the same, but it would provide some advantages to consumers, as the bill calculation on lower blocks of tariff structure would reduce the charges.

BPC, in a notification issued on February 19, stated that the bills for January 2021 were prepared based on the average consumption of the past three months as they had to temporarily suspend meter reading and bill delivery because of the lockdown.

It stated that the February bill was prepared on actual meter reading, which reflected the increased energy consumption that was not accounted for in the average bill of January.

“Additionally, the bills also reflected the outstanding of the previous bills including the late payment charges (penalty),” the notification stated. “The penalty was generated by the system for the customers who had not paid the bills.”

The notification also stated that as was done for the 1st lockdown period, the same shall be waived off the last two-tariff cycles and adjusted accordingly. But it is not clear how the adjustments would be made and how it will benefit the consumers.

BPC issued another notification yesterday informing customers that a screenshot circulating on social media that 30 percent discount on December and January electricity bill will be given to consumers who lodge complaint was a fake message and requesting them not to circulate the message.  The screenshot also stated that, while lodging the complaint, a copy of the bill and a picture of the meter box is required.

Meanwhile, many electricity consumers in Thimphu and Paro are still unhappy with the exorbitant bill.  They vent their frustration on social media.  While some consumers have already paid the bill, many did not, hoping the corporation to consider and revise the bill.

A civil servant, whose electricity bill was more than Nu 35,000 said most people with a meagre income of Nu 15,000 would not be able to pay the electricity bill.

A corporate employee said it is not even clear if BPC made adjustments for the average bill they generated without even reading the meters during lockdown when they issued the second bill. “BPC should explain clearly. They owe an explanation to the consumers.”