High electricity bills are drawing the ire of some citizens and residents amid scorching summer and the extended spell of evening lockdowns that have confined people to their homes.
Some consumers who spoke to the Observer feel that the latest surge in bills is not in tune with the new tariffs that came into effect in January this year.
Responding to a flurry of messages, the Authority for Public Services Regulation (ASPR) said that the consumers can submit complaints through Hasel or they can leave a direct message (including name, account number, and Civil ID) on its Twitter handle.
The Rural Areas Electricity Company (Tanweer) has been also telling consumers that complaints regarding electricity bills will be responded to within one working day.
Individual consumers have been citing various discrepancies in their electricity bills, especially those related to meter reading intervals between two bills.
According to sources in the sector, the meter reading intervals should be not less than 28 days and not more than 33 days.
But the consumers have shared bills that showed consumption days such as 35 and even 85 and 95 in some cases.
“With temperatures touching 40 degrees Celsius even at night, we are forced to use an additional AC this summer and my electricity bill skyrocketed to over RO 100 from my earlier average that used to be between RO 30 and RO 35,” said an expatriate.
Expatriates are still coming to terms with new tariffs that were introduced this year. “I expected the bills to go up with these new tariffs, but what I need to know is that will it really go by 50 to 70 per cent as informed by some of my friends. Also what about the Value-Added Tax,” said a British school teacher, who did not want to be named.
Some consumers took to social media and said that the issue is not about some individuals having exorbitant bills, but that of a common situation witnessed and reported from across the country, both rural and urban.
People have been urging that electricity companies should be more transparent and explain to their subscribers the exact reason for this in big surge in monthly charges.
“I am not in a position to pay these electricity bills that amount to more than RO 60 per month. I don’t know whom to approach and whether there will be any immediate solution. It is really a difficult situation because expenses have gone up and the company is irregular in paying salaries.”
ASPR said it has been following what is being circulated on social media about the inflated electricity bills for some subscribers, it would spare no efforts to ensure that electricity distribution companies follow the applicable standards while issuing bills to all its subscribers.
It affirmed that if the licensed companies do not comply with the regulatory framework for billing, the authority will intervene in favor of the subscriber to amend the calculation based on the bases it has approved, in accordance with the legal powers granted to it.
All licensed companies are required to take actual readings for all subscribers per month for a period of no less than 28 and not exceeding 33 days.
If it is not possible to take the actual reading, an estimated reading is calculated by the following method – use the actual consumption for the same month of the previous year. If this is not possible, use the actual consumption for the closest previous month available.