Domestic electricity consumers urged to switch

By Talaia Mika 30 November 2023, 10:00PM

The Electric Power Corporation (EPC) General Manager has urged domestic power consumers affected by the removal of the 20 per cent power bill reduction to switch to the domestic category.

In an interview with the Samoa Observer, Faumui Tauiliili Toimoana said some consumers who registered under the non-domestic consumer category are former business owners and he believes their lack of understanding is causing the confusion.

Asked whether individuals and families leasing and renting apartments can be spared the new electricity rate spike, he explained that it all comes back to the category of their registration.

"Again, if that's the case then they should refer to the person who registered their permits, the landlord or whoever owns the apartment whether they categorized it under domestic or non-domestic," he said. "If it's domestic then they still get 20 per cent off but if it's non-domestic then it's the opposite.

"That's why we advise them to come switch their categories to domestic so they can still get their 20 per cent off and of course, we carry out our surveys when they register or switch to confirm whether it's a business or not."

This newspaper understands most individuals and families in rental accommodation pay for their own electricity despite the fact that they don't own businesses, and are the most affected by the revocation of the 20 per cent reduction rate by the government.

Last month, the Cabinet revoked a 20 per cent reduction in electricity costs for non-domestic consumers which include commercial entities in Samoa. The change in electricity tariffs was made via the Order of the Cabinet – FK (23) 25 with the changes to go into effect from 1 November 2023.

"This order from Cabinet revokes the 20 per cent reduction on the cost of electricity for all non-domestic consumers, including commercial consumers," reads the EPC order.

"This Cabinet order approved for the tariff to be fixed and subject to review with respect to tariffs, rates or charges for the provision of electricity services by the Electric Power Corporation."

According to the Cabinet directive, the change in tariff is per unit of electricity for non-domestic consumers using prepaid meters (cash power and smart meters) with the E.P.C. now permitted to charge $1.02 per unit or kWh. For non-domestic consumers on induction meters (readable power), the E.P.C. is permitted to charge $1.05 per unit.

These charges were effective for all Government consumers on 1 July 2023 according to the orders issued by the Cabinet. The notice which was signed by Faumui also emphasised that the existing tariff for domestic consumers such as individual households will remain unaffected by these changes.

Faumui, in a previous interview with this newspaper, said the E.P.C. is trying to speed up its plans and projects for Samoa's full transition to renewable energy and the removal of tariff reductions for public consumers including residential homes is not on the agenda.

"That will never happen because the 20 per cent reduction is in the government's manifesto or policy so it can never happen," said Faumui. "The policy changing happened right at the time when the fuel prices went up so yes there have been financial losses within the corporation due to that and it will continue if the fuel price keeps going up.

"That's why we're looking at transitioning to renewable energy as fast as we possibly could to avoid ongoing losses and that's the best solution as outlined in our launched plan.

"Again, it was the Cabinet directive that we followed on the revoking of the reduction bill for electricity for Government ministries [which went into effect in July this year] but I am confident that it will never happen to other consumers."

According to Faumui, part of the sector plan they launched last year for the transitioning of power supply to renewable energy is for Independent Power Producers to start producing power which would be cheaper.

By Talaia Mika 30 November 2023, 10:00PM
Samoa Observer

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