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Wednesday, January 20, 2015, Magh 8, 1421, Robiul Awal 29, 1436 Hijr

Power Price Public Hearing
BERC hears PDB proposal
Hike may come from Mar 1
Published : Wednesday, 21 January, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 11

Staff Correspondent
Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission started Tuesday a five-day public hearing on power price hike, as proposed by different organizations involved in generation and distribution of electricity.
The government has moved to raise power price at a time when the price of fuel oil, a prime expense in electricity generation, has halved in global market.
BERC, being pursued by the government, has already increased the bulk price of electricity by about 100 per cent and the retail price by about 54 per cent since March 2010 on the plea of rising cost of power generation due to dependence on expensive fuel oil, officials said.
An evaluation committee has suggested the commission raise the price 5.16 per cent, as proposed by the Power Development Board. BERC completed the hearing on PDB proposal on Tuesday, the first day of the 5-day hearing.  
Meanwhile, Power Grid Company of Bangladesh demanded a 71 per cent hike for electricity transmission.
Besides, Rural Electrification Board demanded a 25.89 per cent hike in retail power price, PDB 18.12 per cent, West-Zone Power Distribution Company 21.31 per cent, Dhaka Power Distribution Company 17.85 per cent and Dhaka Electric Supply Company 17.45 per cent hike.
Experts and rights activists have blasted the price-hike move, pointing to the fact that Brent crude oil prices dipped below $50 a barrel on Monday from about $115 since June 2014.
They alleged that the government, on one hand, wants to  make profit by selling fuel oil, it is desperate to raise power prices by showing a rise in power generation cost, on the other.
Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation is making profit from the sales of diesel and furnace oil to PDB, though the board pays the government several thousand crores of taka in taxes, a PDB official said.
The government is expected to realise some Tk 4,000 crore in taxes from the BPC from the imports and marketing of fuel oil in the 2014-15 fiscal year, while the corporation is now making profit of Tk 10-20 a litre from fuel oil sales.
The energy regulator held the public hearing on PDB proposal for raising the price of bulk electricity by 18.12 per cent, at which the distribution companies will buy.
Such hearings are also scheduled for January 21, 22 and 25, when proposals for raising prices for power transmission and distribution would be heard.
Meanwhile, Democratic Left Alliance, a combine of eight left leaning political parties, organised a protest rally in front of the BERC office on Tuesday morning against the price-hike move.
Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) and Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal (BSD) from a similar rally organized in front of the National Press Club on the day also protested the proposed hike in power tariff.
The government initiated the move for raising power price after the BERC increased the prices by Tk 0.40 per kilowatt-hour or unit on an average with effect from March 1 next.
With the possible latest hike, the Awami League-led government in its two consecutive terms pursued the commission to increase the retail power prices by 54 per cent, increasing from Tk 4 a unit to Tk 6.15 on an average in seven phases since February 2011.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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