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Concerns swirl over hike in electricity bills

Many domestic users say their bills have gone up despite no change in their electricity use.

Ahmad Mustakim Zulkifli & Azzman Abdul Jamal
3 minute read
Some electricity users are questioning the recent increase in their household bills despite no discernible change in use of appliances.
Some electricity users are questioning the recent increase in their household bills despite no discernible change in use of appliances.

Questions have been raised about the hike in electricity bills over the past few months, as Malaysians struggle to deal with a warm spell which the government recently said could continue until August, and amid economic uncertainties as well as cost of living concerns. 

Arif Hilmi from Alor Setar, Kedah, said his electricity bill had gone up even though his use of home appliances was still the same.  

"The strangest thing is, my family and I went on vacation for nearly 10 days in May, but we were still billed for the same amount of use," he added. 

Arif, who is self-employed, has just one air conditioner in his house and used to pay RM60 to RM80 for electricity. Now, though, his bill has hit between RM160 and RM190. 

In March, he was billed RM70. The following month, his bill went up nearly two-fold to RM139. 

Arif is one of many who have complained of late about an increase in their electricity bills. 

Social media users have even taken to uploading screenshots of their bills on their TNB apps. 

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim recently said that those in the T20 or Top 20 income group would not benefit from electricity subsidies.

Speaking in the Dewan Rakyat on May 22, he said the government would not raise electricity rates except for those in this group. 

Earlier on May 15, meanwhile, he said that households with high electricity consumption would no longer enjoy government subsidies.

This led to questions about the mechanism to determine the financial status of domestic consumers, as even low- or middle-income households with large families might use high amounts of electricity. 

In March, Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad told the Dewan Rakyat that some RM10.76 billion had been allocated by the government to cover electricity bill subsidies for domestic and non-domestic users from Jan 1 to June 30.

Subsidies were also given to micro, small and medium businesses (PMKS), and users in the agricultural category such as farmers and livestock breeders. 

Khairulfikri Saad, from Bandar Tasik Puteri in Rawang, Selangor, said he too had experienced a spike in electricity bill despite using only one air conditioner at night. 

"My bill used to be RM60 to RM80, but since last month, it has gone up even though my air conditioner use is still the same," he said. 

Khairulfikri lives alone and only returns home at night. 

In May, though, he was billed RM127.70. This month, his electricity bill topped RM213. 

The Energy Commission said on Dec 16 last year that the electricity tariff adjustment under the implementation of the imbalanced cost relief mechanism (ICPT) from Jan 1 to June 30 would only affect users in the industrial and commercial categories, where a surcharge of 20 sen/kWh would be imposed.

It said domestic tariff categories involving home users would not experience an increase in electricity tariffs, with the rebate of 2 sen/kWh to be maintained.

"Tariff users consisting of PMKS as well as certain agricultural tariff categories will not experience an increase in electricity tariffs either, as the surcharge of 3.7 sen/kWh will be maintained," it said.

Referring to this announcement, TNB said the government was still allocating RM8.74 billion in subsidies for the PMKS consumer category and RM90 million in subsidies for the agricultural category. 

"For medium and high voltage users from industries including multinational corporations, the government is still covering a subsidy of RM1.93 billion so that the surcharge will not be suddenly imposed," it said on the official TNB website.

MalaysiaNow understands that ICPT adjustments are made every six months, taking into account the fluctuations in market price of fuel generation. 

On June 23, the government said that some 83,000 users who record more than 1,500 kWh or RM708 worth of electricity per month would see an increase in their bills of at least RM187 or 25% once the ICPT mechanism comes into force in July. 

Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad however assured that the adjustments would not affect those who use below 1,500 kWh – approximately 99% of users in the peninsula.