Electricity Bill Hikes with New Meter

Your electricity bill is just going to get higher.

No, there is no tariff hike in store, not in the near term, nor in the medium term.

The hike is due to the new digital energy meters that are being installed in stages by Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB).

In fact, some people who have had their meters changed are already feeling the pinch. A consumer who used to pay RM80 to RM90 monthly now has to fork out nearly RM200.

Another user who used to pay RM110 a month, now has to pay RM170 to RM180.

The extra expenditure is putting a strain on his household budget. In a year he would have forked out RM720 to RM840 more on electricity, unless he decides to take drastic steps to change his lifestyle and monitor his power consumption.

Everyone who is a TNB consumer will undergo the meter change eventually. This is inevitable and TNB is paying for the cost of replacing all the meters. The change began last year and some one million premises will have the new digital meters by the end of this year.

And from next year, TNB will install 800,000 new meters every year until all its seven million clients’ meters are changed.

The question is, does TNB need to install the new meters?

It does. Simply because some of the meters out there are between 20 and 30 years old, and may not be capturing the readings accurately.

This is why consumers are getting higher bills even if they are not increasing power consumption drastically by installing air-conditioners in every room because of the hot weather. The kilowatt hour cost has remained constant, and the average electricity cost in the country is still 31.2 sen/kwh, and for households, 21.8 /kwh.

TNB came to realise that it needed to have accuracy in its billings and there is a potential loss of revenue with the usage of old meters.

TNB had its own sampling done and found out the old meters were not registering accurate readings as the difference in reading was 2% to 70% versus the new meters. But those affected will say it is a difference of 100% to 200%.

TNB maintains that the new meters are calibrated properly and have been implemented with the Ministry’s blessings.

Although TNB says only 4% of its total complaints are related to the higher bills for now, the numbers will grow if it does not educate the users on the new meters.

It also has to educate users on how to lower their bills by being more energy-efficient, although this would mean that people will consume less power and TNB may end up earning less.

But as a corporate citizen it needs to do that. It can begin with simple notices to tell users not to leave their microwave, TV or computer on standby mode, but to switch the appliances off as the meter continues to run even in this mode.

To pay less, the user needs to use less and be more careful about leaving lights or appliances on.

And for TNB, it is about ensuring that its billings are accurate or else there will be disputes and any dispute is not good for any organisation. – The Star

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