PM Advises Energy Ministry To Clarify Electricity Charges

Source: Vientiane Times

Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has directed the Ministry of Energy and Mines to clearly explain the electricity tariff structure following concerns raised by society about increased monthly bills.

PM Thongloun gave the directive at the government’s monthly meeting in Vientiane last week. He said the reason for increasing power bills needs to be justified to allay concerns by members of the public.

He also noted the need for checks on electrical installation and wiring which has been a contributing factor in increasing numbers of house fires. Electrical short circuits caused by poor wiring have resulted in many people losing their homes and livelihoods.

The PM’s directive comes after many Vientiane residents have claimed their power bills are higher than last month. Some household consumers posted on Facebook that their electricity bill had more than tripled in April compared to March.

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Some have questioned why Laos appears to have such expensive electricity charges for householders when the nation is such a powerhouse exporter in the sector. However, Électricité du Laos (EDL) clarified on Lao National Television last week that all consumers are receiving a government subsidy on the new electricity tariff of 710 kip/kWh.

But low-income people make up more than 80 percent of all electricity consumers nationwide using less than 150 kWh per month, meaning their total bills will be cut by 50 percent to 355 kip/kWh.Managing Director of EDL, Mr Bounoum Sivanpheng, told Lao media recently that the electricity price structure needed recalibrating periodically depending on the economic situation and government policies.

“But this new price structure still contains the government’s subsidies,” he said. Around 1 million households across the country consuming 0-150 kWh per month are now being charged 355 kip/kWh, while consumers using 151-461 kWh per month should expect their bills to increase by 30,000 to 50,000 kip. In contrast, those using 462 kWh or more a month will see their electricity bills reduced.

For example, a user who consumes 1,000 kWh/month will receive a reduction of about 170,000 kip compared to the old price.

Urban middle-income earners using over 150 kWh of electricity per month are paying 710k / kWh, meaning they will pay more than before.

Nevertheless, power officials stressed that the government was still subsidising these consumers.

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