GLENN KHAN, Regulated Industries Commission (RIC) executive director, reckoned vulnerable citizens would not be harmed by the proposed increases in T&TEC's rates. He was addressing a public consultation on Tuesday at the Centre of Excellence, Macoya.
Khan based this on a proposal to retain T&TEC's banded billing system whereby the first few hundred units of electricity was supplied at a lower price, with the per-unit price then stepped up for the second band, and more so for a third band. Also, secondly, low-volume consumers enjoy a discount on their bill. Thirdly, the socially vulnerable can apply for a further discount.
Khan said the RIC's public consultations would help a draft determination in T&TEC rates for 2023-2027, as the Regulated Industries Commission Act mandated a price review every five years.
T&TEC corporate communications officer Annabelle Brasnell on Wednesday told Newsday, T&TEC's last rate increase was 13 years ago in 2009.
Khan said T&TEC proposed to have consumers pay their bill monthly rather than every two months as now obtains.
He displayed a table showing how T&TEC proposed to move from charging by three bands of consumption volumes to four bands.
Customers now pay 26 cents per kilowatt hours (kWh) for the first 400 kWh used, 32 cents for the next 400-1,000 kWh, and 37 cents for amounts above 1,000 kWh.
T&TEC is proposing customers are charged 28 cents for the first 200 kWh, 40 cents for the next 200-700 kWh, 54 cents for 701-1,400 kWh, and 68 cents for amounts over 1,400 kWh.
Khan displayed calculations of how two typical bills might change.
If a customer now consumes 200 kWh in a two-month period, she now pays $65 in one bill every two months, that is, bimonthly.
The new rates would see 200 kWh generate a charge of $79 over two months which will be split into two monthly payments of $39.94 each.
If 800 kWh is consumed in a two-month period, the consumer now pays $267 in one bimonthly bill, but the new proposal will see a charge of $322 to be split into two monthly payments of $161 each.
The customer charge on the bill would increase from $6 on the bimonthly bill to $7.50 on each of the two monthly bills.
He revealed that apart from Suriname - which has ample, cheap hydroelectric power to supply to its citizens - the current and proposed rates for electricity would be lowest in TT for the entire Caribbean. "Everyone else will still be much higher than TT."
Khan said regional electricity prices per kWh for 400 kWh in terms of US dollars were: Barbados 0.201, Belize 0.224, BVI 0.333, Curacao 0.367, Dominica 0.468, Grenada 0.344, Jamaica 0.469, Suriname 0.04, TT (now) 0.044, and TT (proposed) 0.053.
He also revealed the new customer deposit was proposed to increase from $95 to $234.
Khan listed proposed increases in miscellaneous charges which he said had not risen since 2006, saying the prices of everything else had risen.
These included the cost of a meter check at customer's request if then found to be in working order, from $194 to $246, but still no charge if defective.
Khan's charts showed a proposed cost of a visit for non-payment rises from $234 to $297.
The cost to install, reconnect, reposition/change a meter or reposition secondaries would rise from $194 to $246.
The cost of disconnection plus reconnection will rise from $236 now to a proposed $447. The disconnection fee will rise from $118 to $297, while the reconnection fee rises from $118 to $150.
Khan said the World Bank recommended electricity costs of no more than ten per cent of a household's income, but the RIC's analysis on the new rates predicted a maximum of only 3.3 per cent.
Saying T&TEC has lost an average of $1 billion per annum over the past five years, he said the proposed changes will help T&TEC become more sustainable.