Shed light on TNB bill fiasco, not worsen it

Those who checked their electricity bills recently swore they felt electric currents running through their bodies.

And the somewhat confusing statements by the stakeholders in a bid to pacify consumers seemed to have only made matters worse. In fact, there are more questions than answers.

For starters, power companies in Malaysia cannot change their billing structure unless they obtain clearance from the Energy Commission.

Energy and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Dr Shamsul Anuar Nasarah last month denied there were mistakes in the calculation and billing adjustment made by Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period.

On June 2, Shamsul again stressed there were no extra charges by TNB and that the new billing mechanism – actual meter readings which are prorated monthly over the block tariff during MCO – was approved by the commission.

However, TNB was asked to explain the higher electricity bills to the ministry and commission earlier this week following the continued public outcry.

Why?

If the commission had already approved the revised billing calculation, both the commission and the ministry should be well aware of the possible price differences. The move seems more of a wayang kulit to appease consumers, to show the ministry cares.

TNB chairman Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid last night said he takes note of mounting public complaints as the utility company is now studying several mechanisms to address the issue.

Why study the several mechanisms now? Knowing that more people will be at home throughout the MCO, didn’t TNB think that there would naturally be a surge in the usage of electricity at home?

Given the current economic situation, any increase in utility bill will not be received well by consumers.

In fact, if the new billing mechanism – which was approved by the commission – had been foolproof and clearly explained since Day One, there wouldn’t have been any confusion.

TNB has explained itself and the transparency of its methods repeatedly over various platforms but clearly, the initiatives have not been effective.

And if TNB’s calculation has not been accurate due to the tariff blocks, the onus is on the commission and ministry to explain.

Urging dissatisfied consumers to file claims at the Tribunal for Consumer Claims Malaysia has further irked certain quarters. Why should the buck be pushed to users when this matter should have been sorted out by the stakeholders in the first place?

Enough of talks, meetings and press statements. The consumers demand a solution.