Tuesday, November 19, 2019

BERC to start public hearings on Nov 28 as distributors seek power price hike

  • Faysal Atik, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2019-11-08 02:18:45 BdST

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FILE -- Fireworks lit up the night sky during a festival of lights at Hatirjheel in Dhaka on Dec 8, 2016 when the country touched the milestone of 15,000 megawatt power generation. Electricity generation has crossed 22,000MW now. Photo: Mostafigur Rahman

Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission or BERC is going to hold public hearings as the power distribution agencies have proposed tariff hike at the retail level six months after a rise in gas prices.

BERC will start the public hearings on Nov 28 on the proposals that cite a rise in spending on three areas - operation and manpower, introduction of modern technology and equipment price hike. 

Dhaka Electric Supply Company or DESCO, Dhaka Power Distribution Company, West Zone Power Distribution Company Ltd or WZPDCL, and Northern Electricity Supply Company or NESCO and Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board or BREB have submitted the proposals.

Only BREB has said it would not need the hike if bulk power tariff does not increase.

The Power Development Board or PDB, the sole bulk power distributor, already on Oct 15 filed an application seeking steps to trim losses following hike in gas prices and operation costs. The application is in reality a proposal to raise tariff.

And the sole transmission firm, the Power Grid Company of Bangladesh or PGCB, has sought a hike in wheeling charge from the distributors which may be factor in the possible hike in retail power prices.

The PGCB has proposed raising prices at different voltage levels while DESCO seeks a 5.06 percent hike but the other companies have not specified any rates.

BREB distributes 49.95 percent of the total power, PDB 17.53 percent, DPDC 13.55 percent, DESCO 8.04 percent, NESCO 5.77 percent and WZPDCL 5.15 percent.

The government raised retail power prices by Tk 0.35 per unit or 5.3 percent on an average per unit, which is measured at kilowatt per hour, for the last time in November, 2017. The BERC announced gas price hike on June 30 this year.

The power distribution companies started submitting the price hike proposals to the BERC in the middle of October.

The regulator issued a notice for public hearings on the proposals later. According to the notice, the first hearings on rates of bulk power tariff and transmission cost will be held on Nov 28.

The hearings on ODB and NESCO’s proposals will take place on Dec 1, on DPDC and DESCO on Dec 2, and on WZPDCL and BREB on Dec 3.

Professor M Shamsul Alam, an energy advisor to the rights group Consumers Association of Bangladesh or CAB, has called the proposals to raise power price “unreasonable”.

“We had earlier shown the companies ways to cut operation costs and corruption. Proposing a price hike for these issues is unreasonable,” he told bdnews24.com. 

“There is no scope of raising bulk power tariff as well, but a proposal to this week end has been submitted,” he said.

The CAB advisor also said the organisation would make its arguments at the hearings.