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City corporations owe Tk154cr in electric bills

  • Published at 05:36 pm December 2nd, 2019
Bikash Dewan DPDC
DPDC Managing Director Engineer Bikash Dewan speaks at the pubic hearing at TCB auditorium at Kawran Bazar in Dhaka on Monday, December 2, 2019 Focus Bangla

DPDC warns power supply will be cut if dues are not paid by the end of the year

Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) and Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) headquarters together owe a mammoth Tk154 crore ofelectric bills till date, Dhaka Power Distribution Company Ltd (DPDC) said in a public hearing on Monday.

The power company authorities are mulling over disconnecting the power supply to the two city corporation headquarters early next year over their outstanding bills.

Of the two city corporations, DSCC has the highest (around Tk90 crore) outstanding amount.

The potential action was disclosed during Monday's first mass hearing on the DPDC’s proposal to raise retail power tariff from January 1, 2020. 

DPDC Executive Director (operation) ATM Harunur Rashid said: “We’ve already written to both city corporations asking them to pay the outstanding bills by December. 

“Upon failing to pay us within the deadline, we’ll cut power connections of the two entities in January,” he said.

He was replying to the question from Consumers' Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Energy Adviser Prof Dr M Shamsul Alam who asked about the amount of the bills that the DNCC and DSCC owe to DPDC.

When asked, Shamsul Alam replied that the DPDC was not taking a hardline stance against the city corporations.

At the hearing, the DPDC proposed nearly 50% hike in the distribution charge to Tk1.24/kilo-watt hour (kWh), up from Tk0.83/kWh to tackle a massive projected financial deficit in the next calendar year.

Photo shows DPDC officials present at the public hearing at TCB auditorium at Kawran Bazar in Dhaka on Monday, December 2, 2019 | Focus Bangla

At the second hearing of the day, the Dhaka Electric Supply Company Limited, commonly known as Desco, sought a 113.8% increase of its distribution charge.

Currently, its distribution charge stands at Tk0.74kWh. 

The technical evaluation committee of the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC), to which the proposals were placed, however, recommended only 4.8% and 9.5% distribution charge hike for the DPDC and the Desco respectively. 

Both companies cited quality service, repaying loans, massive outstanding bills, infrastructural development, and expansion of manpower are among the major reasons that prompted them to seek the hike. 

Terming the growing expenses by the power companies ‘unnecessary’ and criticizing those for doing so, energy expert Shamsul Alam urged the BERC to form a committee to probe into the matter.

Power companies defying BERC’s order

In a 2017 order, the energy regulatory body asked the power companies not to charge fares against prepaid electricity metres, but the companies, including DPDC and Desco, are yet to comply with the instruction.

Instead, they are charging Tk40 a month from every pre-paid metre user. 

As the CAB’s energy adviser raised the issue, BERC member (power) Mizanur Rahman admitted that they had instructed the electricity companies not to charge fares for availing pre-paid metres.

“But why is the practice still in place?” he questioned the companies.

In their defence, DPDC and Desco officials said that the metres were not allowed to be sold in the market, which is why they had to install the metres on their own and later raise the money in monthly instalments. 

“We do charge the users Tk40 as a monthly metre fare. Except that, we do not take any extra money,” he argued. 

“Plus, we also do not take a single penny for installing the metres. So, our job is to adjust monthly the money we have already paid for the metres,” said DPDC Managing Director Bikash Dewan.

He went on saying that maintenance and cost of the metres are also included in the monthly fare, while the fare for the metres can be charged for a maximum of 10 years.

The proposals of Rural Electrification Board (REB) and West Zone Power Distribution Company Limited will be heard today, ending the four-day mass hearing.

On Thursday, the first day of the hearing, the Bangladesh Power Development Board sought a 23.28% rise in bulk prices from 2020 to tackle a massive potential financial deficit of Tk8,560.6 crore. 

Citing the high likely bulk tariff hike, the distribution companies asked for an upward revision of retail prices. 

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