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House energy committee, stakeholders call for examining spike in electricity bills

By JT - Jan 29,2020 - Last updated at Jan 29,2020

The Lower House’s Energy and Mineral Resources Committee discusses a recent rise in energy bills and energy losses during a meeting on Wednesday (Petra photo)

AMMAN — Head of the Lower House’s Energy and Mineral Resources Committee Hussein Qaisi on Wednesday requested the Energy and Minerals Regulatory Commission (EMRC) to prepare a report within 48 hours to confirm the accuracy of electricity bills for November, December and January.

This came during Qaisi's heading of the committee’s meeting, which saw the attendance of EMRC Chairman Farouk Hyari and directors of various electricity companies and discussed the high value of electricity bills during the current and past two months.

During the meeting, Qaisi suggested that electricity companies should distribute the increase of bills from the current and past months among the remaining of the months of the year, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

Qaisi highlighted the rise in the number of complaints the committee has received about the bills increasing, stressing the need for “clear and explicit justification” from electricity companies.

He added that the total increase in the electricity bills by 7 to 10 per cent comes out to more than JD100,000, noting that there are about 120,000 citizens whose bills have increased in value during November and December compared to the two months before.

In regards to what is termed "electricity losses", including thefts and technical problems, Qaisi explained: "This issue, including its numbers, has become terrifying, as the National Electric Power Company [NEPCO] incurs financial losses exceeding JD150 million." 

He stressed the need to find fundamental solutions for this issue, as well as that of electricity-meter imbalance.

"Why does NEPCO bear the cost of electricity losses and thefts?” he questioned, stressing the need for the burden to be borne by the Electricity Distribution Company. 

"It appears that there is a defect in the agreements signed in this regard," he added.

For his part, Hyari stressed an existing plan to reduce total losses by 2 per cent over the next three years, explaining that technical losses have been reduced by 3 per cent over the past four years. He also highlighted that losses caused by thefts amount on average to 20,000 cases annually.

"No electricity metre will be installed unless it is approved by the EMRC and checked for proper functioning," he said.

He stressed that a “very large” increase in power consumption — from 2,600 MW to 3,510 MW — was witnessed during the period between December 15 and the present. 

Regarding the evaluation of the accuracy of meter readings, Hyari clarified that this process will be completed within 48 hours.

Random samples of 300,000 bills will be taken from various electricity distribution companies, with the exception of the Jordan Electric Power Company (JEPCO)’s sample, totalling 500,000 bills.

Regarding the suggestion to distribute the rise in the value of electricity bills in installments over the remaining months of the year, Hyari said that this move would "negatively affect NEPCO", promising to study the proposal in depth.

NEPCO General Manager Hassan Abdullah said that a drop of merely one degree in temperature is reflected by a 4.5 per cent increase in consumption.

"The losses have nothing to do with the issue of the high electricity bills," he stressed.

He called on those protesting the value of their bills to file complaints — as the company has only received 102 complaints during the past week — promising that NEPCO personnel will afford them due attention.

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