Tuesday,24 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1122, 15 - 21 November 2012
Tuesday,24 October, 2017
Issue 1122, 15 - 21 November 2012

Ahram Weekly

Why soaring electricity bills?

Despite government reassurances, complaints of higher electricity bills are on the rise, reports Ahmed Kotb

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Electricity companies in most of Egypt’s governorates have received thousands of complaints regarding higher bills that many citizens say are “inexplicable”.
“The monthly bill has gone up in the last four months by more than 300 per cent, while usage remains the same,” said Ahmed Montasser, a resident of 6 October city, adding that he filed many complaints with the electricity company but never received a reply.
Montasser stated that he joined a group of his neighbours who decided to meet officials from the company to ask about the unexpectedly higher electricity bills, but they told them that electricity rates did not increase and that consumption must have increased. “I used to pay about LE100 every month, but since last July the bill has increased to over LE400 without any noticeable increase in consumption,” Montasser argued.
In the meantime, Aktham Abul-Ela, deputy minister of electricity and energy, told Al-Ahram Weekly that there have been no increases in electricity prices since 2008. He said that higher electricity bills that many people complain about are due to higher consumption in the past few months since July.
“Electricity prices started to increase in 2004 by five per cent annually; then went up to 7.5 per cent. But since 2008 to date, there have been no further increases,” Abul-Ela stated.
But the Ministry of Electricity’s reassurances are not convincing the public. Aya Salah, a housewife, says that her husband has been refusing to pay the electricity bill since August because he found no reason for the increase in the bill. “Our consumption has not changed and we only use one air conditioning unit, so how could the bill go up to LE800 when it used to be LE250?” Salah questioned.
“Daily power cuts meant that my electricity consumption is less. That should have reflected on my electricity bill,” added Salah.
Electricity companies announced early this month that more than 50 per cent of citizens did not pay their due bills for the second month in a row, causing a shortage in the finances needed for new investment in the sector.
Calls for not paying electricity bills increased in recent months following a summer full of power outages across the country.
Electricity consumers are divided into six segments, each paying a different price. Consumers in the first segment pay LE0.05 per kilowatt (KW). The unsubsidised cost is LE0.19 per kilowatt. About five million families fall in the first segment and consume less than 50 KW per month.
The second segment includes 10 million families who pay LE0.11 per KW for consumption between 51 to 200 KW. And there are four million families in the third segment who pay LE0.16 per KW and consume between 201 and 350 KW.
There are also three segments of consumers who pay higher than the cost price of electricity. These include the fourth segment that includes 1.2 million families who consume 351 to 650 KW per month and pay LE0.24 for each KW.
The fifth segment includes 231,000 families who pay LE0.39 for a KW of electricity as long as their consumption falls between 651 and 1,000 KW per month. About 140,000 families fall into the final segment and pay LE0.48 per KW for a consumption of more than 1,000 KW.
Abul-Ela pointed out that the ministry has prepared a study for increasing electricity rates for segments whose consumption rate is high and yet benefit from energy subsidies. But “the Cabinet has yet to approve any increases in electricity prices,” he said.

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