Akash Samaroo

The Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (TTEC) says it is increased consumption and not a rate hike that is accounting for a higher than usual bill that some customers may be experiencing.

An extra expenditure is the last thing people may want right now but many say they have to dig deeper in their pockets for as much as $300 extra to pay this cycle’s electricity bill.

“In some cases, we are seeing increases in customers’ consumption as it relates to domestic customers, a lot of people are at home and as a result their consumption pattern has changed so people may be operating their air condition with other usage at home and all of that will contributing to that higher bill,” said T&TEC’s General Manager Kelvin Ramsook.

Guardian Media was told that extra internet usage due to online virtual classes is also a main contributor.

Ramsook made it clear that there was no increase in rates. He said that falls under the purview of the Regulated Industries Commission and must be subjected to public consultation before a determination is made. The last increase for T&TEC was in 2009.

But Ramsook said the explanation for any increase is simple, more usage means you spend more.

“Our customers are billed based on kilowatt per hour (kWh), and you’d see that their kWh usage has gone up so it’s not the case of the dollar value going up, if you consume more kWh then of course it is associated to a bill that reflects that,” Ramsook added.

Guardian Media compared two electricity bills, pre and post COVID-19. One bill for the period January 15, 2020 to March 12, 2020 showed a kWh usage of 1835 units.

Meanwhile a recent bill for the period June 10,2020 to August 11, 2020 showed a usage of 2445 kWh.

However, some have said that their consumption pattern has not changed and they were still billed hundreds of dollars more than usual. Ramsook said when they come in to query the bill, they are shown that they are using more electricity than they think.

“Internal to us we would have had similar requests, but when we did our checks, we realized that the meters are accurate and it has shown an increase in kWh and we were able to point out to them the pattern so on what particular day they would have increased consumption.”

When asked if maybe there may be issues with the electronic meter which determines how much you pay per cycle, Ramsook said the meters are accurate but would still make checks to ensure that is so.

Meanwhile, Ramsook said while there was an increase in domestic consumption, commercial and industrial use dipped due to stay- at- home measures.