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Electricity cost drop disputed

Member of Parliament for Salega East, Olo Fiti Vaai, has questioned the Government's second stimulus package assistance and a promise to reduce the cost of electricity for households.

During an interview with the Samoa Observer, Olo questioned why the Electric Power Corporation (E.P.C.) does not indicate the cost of the unit rate reduction on the cash power top-up receipts. 

He pointed to a receipt for his new smart meter top-up where $50 was spent to purchase cash power and on the new meter reads 46 units.  What he does not understand is that before the smart meter was installed, he would normally get close to a 100 units with his $50.

“It appears that the cost of electricity has gone up with the new smart meter,” he said. 

“If E.P.C. is saying that the other 4 unit was taken away because of arrears then that should be noted on the receipt, this is misleading. 

“People also don’t know where the stimulus package incentive went to, you don’t see that on the receipt as well…for the sake of transparency and accountability all of this should be included.” 

Government recently announced $83 million second economic package to cushion the impact of COVID-19. 

The second stimulus package includes a number of measures for injecting cash directly into the economy and entails electricity rate reduction being extended unit December. 

The assistance that continues on from the first phase which is meant to last until August as been extended to December and entails a 10sene reduction in electricity unit rate and a 50% reduction in the daily fixed extended to hotels. 

 However, the M.P. for Salega is asking if the Government had cancelled the stimulus package on electricity costs. 

“That is how I see it there isn’t an incentive according to my receipts,” he said. 

“If that is the case then what the Minister responsible for E.P.C. and Minister of Finance declared in parliament relating to the incentive are misleading and should provide answers to the public.” 

Attempts are being made to get a comment from the E.P.C. General Manager, Tologata Tile Tuimalealiifano. 

Recently there have complaints raised by members of the public in relation to the newly installed smart meters in the industrial area of Vaitele. 

This prompted a survey by the Office of the Regulator that also recommended to cease the $4.1 million smart meter project.

Some of the issues encountered by users include claims about the accuracy of the meter against consumer usage and also alleged the new system being a lot more expensive. 

Others weren’t fully aware of the readings on the receipt and arrears from the balance being deducted automatically. 

At the time, E.P.C. General Manager Tologata confirmed they have received a few complaints about smart meters. 

He said the recommendation from the Regulator to cease the roll out of the project, needs to be clarified and rectify. 

“Meters are the properties of E.P.C. and replacing old meters with smart meters is the prerogative of E.P.C. with the intension to improve the efficiency and quality of its services to its consumers and reduce costs and losses so that consumers will have affordable electricity.”

He pointed out that government has already approved “Digital Transformation Project” and smart meter is part of this broad project of Government. 

Tologata also denied claims that the smart meter is more expensive than the cash power one. 

“This is not true, it is the same price if tariff is the same,” he said. 

He explained that the reason why some might believe it’s expensive is due to the system allowing customers to still get connected instead of switching them off when they run out of credit. 

 

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