Following numerous complaints regarding the electricity bill amount for the bill issued after the second nationwide lockdown, the bill was revised by the Bhutan Power Corporation Limited (BPC). However, many people are surprised with the slightest changes and are still not pleased with the revised billing.
According to the BPC, the erstwhile billing was done as per the BPC’s COVID-19 contingency plan and Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) of average billing, where the bills for January 2021 were prepared based on the average consumption of the past three months.
The Chief Executive Officer of the BPC, Sonam Tobjey said that based on the feedback, they had made an in-depth analysis as to how customers are impacted.
He said the BPC issued a notification, explaining how the average consumption and billing were carried out. “We wanted to give that piece of information to individual customers. We have decided to send an individual note explaining what average consumption is based on, how it was implemented, and to show the consumption pattern of the current month and previous months,” he said.
He said that the revised billing is not yet complete and they expect it to be concluded by the end of this month. To clear this backlog, they are re-working on the bill for more than 60,000 customers.
According to the CEO, the bill is charged based on three blocks. In the new billing, they are trying to give block tariff advantage where those customers who have used less than 100 units, they will be billed at Nu 1.28, 101- 400 units will be billed at Nu 2.68 and beyond 500 unit, it will be billed at Nu 3.6 per unit cost. If the billing is beyond 500 units, they do not get the block tariff advantage as they will be charged at the highest block tariff at Nu 3.6 per unit cost.
Sonam Tobjey said the complaint was owing to the bill from February month as it was prepared on actual meter reading, which reflected the increased energy consumption that was not accounted for in the average bill of January.
“The only revision we did was on the block tariff advantage.” If the consumption is more, then the bill is billed based on the highest block, any additional will be the highest block, so the amount could go high.
According to the CEO, every one year, there is a gradual increase in the billing. For those who have already paid, the benefit will be passed through the subsequent bills.
On the other hand, many people are not satisfied with the changes that the BPC had made in their bills following the revision.
Karma Dorji, a resident of Changzamtog, said the bill in February was surprising for him as he had to pay nearly Nu 6,000, which he had never paid until now.
“Though we used kerosene heater more, the bill was unexpected,” he said, adding that he had no other way than to pay. The normal bill amount that he used to get was around less than Nu 3,000 per month.
He said his bill amount was reduced with Nu 100 after the revision of the bill. “It is like there is no change at all.”
A resident of Changjiji said she was in her village during the lockdown, but she still had to pay Nu 2,000, which was the highest rate she ever paid.
“Normally, I would be charged within Nu 1,000 per month. With the revision of the bill, my bill amount was reduced by Nu 200. It is disappointing to see the revised bill as there is no difference with small changes.”
However, BPC says that the customers will be given payment options to ease the burden with two-month installment basis from the due-date of billing without penalty. Further, any issue related to default payment and those consumers who are surcharged will be waived off.
Tenzin Lhamo from Thimphu