Myeik residents lament higher power prices

Electricity prices in Myeik, Tanintharyi Region, have risen since an agreement between the Tanintharyi Regional Government and public company Myeik Public Corp Ltd was inked on October 26 for the latter to take over distribution of electricity in the Myeik area.

Under the electricity distribution contract, Myeik Public must commence distribution of electricity within six months of signing. South Korean company KHAN Co Ltd is investing US$40 million (K63.7 trillion) to improve the electricity grid for distribution, while Golden Green Energy Co Ltd (GGE) and Myeik Public will contribute K6 billion.

While consumers in and around Myeik had been hoping for electricity prices to drop due to the entry of a public company, this has not proven to be the case. The price of electricity in Myeik is now K50 per kilowatt-hour for the first 100 units and between K60 and K70 for villages outside town despite the agreement stating that the cost of electricity would be K26 per kilowatt-hour for the first 100 units, The Myanmar Times understands.

Yet, U Myo Aung, secretary of Myeik Public, said the price of electricity is now being based on the price of heavy fuel oil, which is being used to generate power for the company. Heavy fuel oil prices are in turn tied to global oil prices.

Currently, the price per barrel of heavy fuel oil is K238,000 compared to K140,000 in August 2017 and K95,000 in March 2016.

Myeik, which is an archipelagic region located in the far south of the country on the Andaman Sea, requires roughly 26MW of power a month. Myeik Public won the regional government tender for the distribution of 30MW of electricity in April.

Currently, power is distributed on a small scale to each ward in Myeik by nine private power groups in Myeik – Myothit, Dawei Su, Tat Pyin, Tat Line Su, Kan Khaung, Kan Phyar, Shan Chaung, PTC Myeik Town, Ka Lwin Yay and Sakura. Up until recently, power was mostly produced by generators.

The power groups distributed electricity to villages in each ward between 6pm and 11pm.Wealthier households had their own generators.

“As we don’t receive electricity regularly, we worked to have our wards electrified. Electricity demand has increased and all nine electrification groups agreed to stop using their own generators a year ago since they were old and worn out. We had hoped that the town would have enough electricity at a fair price with Myeik Public involved. Myeik can’t run its industries and businesses without electricity,” said U Soe Thant from Dawei Su.

Myeik’s economy relies heavily on fishing and the town requires electricity to freeze marine products and produce ice. However, the power groups have often had difficulties producing enough electricity during the warmer parts of the year.

“To generate more electricity, the existing old generators are not sufficient. New machines will have to be bought, but within these six months, we will have to rely on the new deal for electricity. It is difficult to fulfill the increased demand in the interim term,” Ko Zaw Latt, manager of the Myeik electrification team, told The Myanmar Times.

Currently, the handover of distribution networks from the private groups to Myeik Public and listing of additional networks is still ongoing, U Myo Aung said.

In the meantime though, residents will have to deal with higher electricity costs. “Right now, we only watch TV and use fluorescent lights, but our monthly electricity bill is over K20,000. We first heard that the price of electricity would fall, but now we hear that prices will be based on the price of oil, so we are not very hopeful,” said Ma Hsu Wai Phyo, a resident of Myeik Township.

Now, residents of Myeik are calling for the government to minimise electricity subsidies in Yangon. “The government is now subsidising up to K35 for each unit of electricity in Yangon and because of this, they cannot supply electricity to the rest of the country. We ask that they raise the tariffs to a rate where they don’t have to subsidise so that other regions will have the chance to connect to the national grid,” U Soe Thant said.

Although Myeik will receive more a more reliable supply of electricity under Myeik Public, it appears that locals will have to pay a higher price to enjoy the new benefits.

Source: Myanmar Times

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