August 4, 2009

Electricity Users to Pay More

Consumers to pay more for electricity bills over $50 - Tuesday, August 04, 2009
ALL electricity consumers whose bills are higher than $50 will have to pay 15 per cent more come September 1. This after the Fiji Electricity Authority was given the green light yesterday to increase its tariff by an average of 3.2 cents per unit (a 15 per cent increase) on September 1.
The increase will go across the board for all customer categories, except those considered "Life-line" domestic customers - whose monthly bills are less than $50 - and some institutions such as religious bodies, schools, council street lights and other non-profit organisations. A statement released by the Information Ministry said around 90 per cent of FEA's domestic customers fell into the "Less than $50/month" category, which means they would see no increase.
But it says for someone whose current consumption is around $60/month, the tariff increase would see their bill increase by $9 a month. This would mean that the 15 per cent increase in tariff is charged over the entire bill, not just the amounts over $50. "For a bill of $80/month - an increase of $12/month, for a bill of $100/month - an increase of $15/month," the statement said. The Transport Ministry justified the tariff increase, saying it was necessary because of the adverse financial impacts of devaluation of the Fiji dollar on April 15 this year, as well as the Commerce Commission's decision to remove the FEA fuel surcharge rate from March 11.
The increasing price of diesel and a possible El Nino later in the year were also contributing factors to this increase, the Transport Ministry said. It said the 15 per cent increase in the tariff rate would see the FEA gain additional revenue of about $2million per month. "This will help to improve FEA's cash flow as well as its financial covenants in its offshore loan agreements." The Transport Ministry said increases in customers' power bills could be mitigated if they reduced their consumption levels by using energy efficient fittings, changing electricity consumption habits and being energy-efficient. It said "the tariff increase was modelled as part of the Corporate Planning by FEA for 2009 to 2011".

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