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Are your electricity bills abnormally high? Here’s why

Wednesday, June 24, 2015, 14:56 GMT+7
Are your electricity bills abnormally high? Here’s why
Employees of a power company note the electricity consumption from the energy meter of a house in Ho Chi Minh City.

If your latest electricity bills have more than doubled from the previous month, do not be too shocked as you are not the only one to suffer such an unreasonable spike.

Many residents in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and other localities across Vietnam have complained about unusually high energy bills for May and June, even though they used the same electric devices for the same amount of time as in previous months.

Dinh Anh Tuan, who resides in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City, paid VND527,000 (US$24.21) for electricity in May, but the bill spiked to VND1.04 million ($48) for June.

“I have an air-conditioner, fridge and television but my wife and I only stay at home after a full day at work,” he told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

“I did not consume more energy so I have no idea why I had to pay more.”

Vietnam’s power prices increased 7.5 percent in mid-March, averaging VND1,622 per kWh.

Trinh Thi Tran, who lives in Binh Tan District, said her electric bill typically ran about VND200,000 ($9.2) prior to the power price hike.

“Of course the bills were higher in the ensuing months, but never higher than VND400,000 [$18.4],” she told Tuoi Tre.

“But the bill this month is VND829,000 [$38.08], even though my family was on a holiday for nearly a week.”

For Kanan, an expat who lives alone in Binh Thanh District, the situation is even worse. His energy bill registered VND1.8 million ($83) for June, compared to VND1.5 million ($69) in April.

“I've been traveling for the past three weeks and I'm definitely sure I didn't use VND1.8 million for electricity,” he wrote on a Facebook page of the expatriate community in Ho Chi Minh City.

“I heard about the electric [price] increase but this was crazy.”

The power consumption of Le Anh Tuan, a Hanoi resident, in June was twice more than the previous month, but his bill tripled, from VND350,000 ($16) to nearly VND1 million ($48).

“My family were not at home during the day and we have been on a vacation for nearly a week,” he was quoted by VnExpress as saying.

On Tuesday, the companies that supply electricity to the two Ho Chi Minh City consumers, Tran and Tuan, came to their houses to check their energy meters, and eventually asserted that there was nothing wrong.

Nguyen Thanh Phong, deputy director of the Thu Duc Power Company, attributed the soaring electricity bills to the rising energy consumption from April to June, when heat waves enveloped the country.

“Your air-conditioners will consume more energy in hot weather than usual, so power consumption rises,” he said.

He also pointed to the calculation method known as a “progressive price ladder,” where power prices vary from level of consumption.

“The consumption may only double but the money consumers have to pay can be 2.5 to 3 times higher,” he said.

The current ‘progressive price ladder,’ approved by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, is as follows.

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This means if you consume 250 kWh, the price will be calculated based on three steps of the price ladder.

The total sum you have to pay will thus be (100*VND1,433) + (100*VND1,660) + (50*VND2,082) = VND413,400.

Compared to consumption of 100 kWh (billed at VND141,050), consumption rises 150 percent, but the payment soars 193 percent, or more than double.

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