TNB bill hike due to “staying at home” during MCO (Updated)

SHAH ALAM: Chalking up higher electricity bills is inevitable when everyone is forced to stay home as required under the movement control order (MCO).

Parents are most likely to be working from home and the children are still not able to go back to school yet, so the usage of electrical appliances (such as fans and air-conditioners) will rise, according to Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB).

TNB chairman Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said that with many people insisting on returning to their home towns, there was also a sudden spike in usage there.

However, he said, consumers only began to see the higher bills from May 15 when actual meter reading resumed.

When meter reading was suspended during the MCO, customers were charged on a pro-rated basis based on billings of previous months.

He added that any shortfall from the bills issued during the MCO would be reflected in upcoming bills.

“Some customers have expressed shock when they received their actual bills that are much higher than usual,” Mahdzir said.

He said usage per household rose by 20% to 50% during the MCO period, a fact that many do not realise.

Many Malaysians have taken to social media to criticise TNB for the sudden increase in their electricity bills.

For some customers, the increase in the billing amount even exceeded the two to 50% discount offered from April and timed to end in September this year.

Mahdzir said he was aware of customers’ frustration and confusion over the increase in the charges, as well as those questioning the method used to charge users during the MCO.

“I would like to explain here that we have used the pro-rate method, based on previous actual monthly usage, to ensure that our customers are not overcharged,” he said.

To ease the burden on Malaysians, TNB has introduced the Easy Payment Plan to all 7.5 million households, offering postponement of the late payment surcharge until Sept 30 and an extension of supply disconnection suspension until July 31.

Mahdzir said TNB would also allow customers to pay their outstanding actual bills during the MCO period on an instalment basis up to December, on the condition that they continue paying their current bills.

He said that since the reopening of dozens of Kedai Tenaga in the last couple of weeks, data showed that the majority of customers who had visited were not there to complain about higher billings.

“Instead, a big portion (or 42%) of them wanted a copy of their bills, while the complaints filed by the remaining 58% were related to other TNB services, including bill payments, account closure, questions on bills and bill adjustments,” he said.

To date, a total of 119 Kedai Tenaga have resumed operations, following the reopening of 27 outlets on Monday in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Negri Sembilan.