Minister: Technical and billing issues also to blame for price spike
PUTRAJAYA: Negligence and technical fault on the part of Tenaga Nasional Bhd were two among three reasons why electricity bills spiked for certain consumers but the government is having none of it.
Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin, who disclosed this, said TNB must be made accountable for what happened or risk facing legal action from consumers.
“They are not just going to get a slap on the wrist but must be accountable for this and resolve the matter with consumers. Fail to do so and they will face legal action,” she told a press conference at her ministry yesterday.
Also present was Energy Commission chairman Datuk Ahmad Fauzi Hasan.
The Commission had met TNB earlier yesterday over the uproar among consumers in Melaka, and other parts of the country who complained of higher than usual power bills.
Besides the two reasons, Yeo said the other given was that consumers were billed for electricity usage for over 30 days when the standard procedure required the utility firm to issue bills for 30 days.
Yeo said the complaints on surge in power charges was from consumers nationwide and not just Melaka households involved in the smart meter pilot project by TNB.
Many consumers had vented their frustration on social media.
In May alone, more than 300 complaints were lodged with the Commission. This was 10 times more than the complaints in the same month last year.
Yeo said the Commission would play its part by investigating the complaints and submit its findings.
Asked whether the affected consumers should settle their dues first, the minister said she would discuss the issue with TNB and believed the problem could be resolved before the payment deadline.
On the smart meter issue, Yeo said the Commission was also investigating to find out what had gone wrong.
Melaka is among the pioneer states to introduce the smart meter and to date, over 300,000 households have already been fitted with it.
Chief Minister Adly Zahari was quoted as saying that he wanted TNB to ensure the system was implemented properly and to resolve several problems, including that the reading shown on myTNB was not the same as that on the meter.
A TNB spokesman said grievances from consumers would be addressed on a case-by-case basis, adding: “Our role is to listen, understand and serve our customers while upholding the law.”
TNB also inviteed consumers in Melaka with grouses to attend its Customers Day at its office in Jalan Banda Kaba which will be held until Friday (8.30am to 4pm daily).
It said each case would be investigated based on the electricity use pattern over the last six months. The firm said it will also, upon investigation, credit any surcharge to the consumer’s account, in the event of overcharging or when excess reading had occurred.
Alternatively, customers can contact the TNB Careline at 1300-88-5454 or visit any TNB office in Alor Gajah, Bandar Jasin, Merlimau and Urban Transformation Centre (UTC) at Jalan Hang Tuah.
Meanwhile, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said the Cabinet was the best avenue to discuss the issue of irregular electricity billing and the solution to it.
He believed Yeo would most likely be asked to explain the matter in today’s Cabinet meeting.
“I have received a lot of Whatsapp messages on this matter. The reaction we have received was nationwide,” Saifuddin said after chairing his ministry’s monthly assembly here yesterday.- The Star
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