The board at RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has decided on tougher terms for a universal electricity supply service introduced almost a decade ago to cover the electricity needs of consumers shunned by suppliers for repeatedly failing to meet electricity bill payments.
The authority, whose decisions are to be forwarded to the energy ministry in an advisory report, wants a three-month limit imposed on the universal service. No specific limit has existed until now. This has been exploited by a considerable number of electricity bill dodgers, or consumers deemed capable, even affluent, but unwilling to service accumulating electricity bills.
Under the RAE recommendation, consumers using the universal service will need to find a supplier once their three-month period has expired. Also universal service bills will need to have been settled prior to any move, according to the authority’s proposal.
RAE, in a second decision, has proposed that the market’s top five electricity suppliers – based on financial standing or market share – jointly provide the universal service if a competitive procedure fails to produce a winning bidder.
Until now, PPC has been required by law, as the dominant player, to provide this universal service because independent suppliers have been unwilling to do so.
Consumers are charged higher tariff rates for resorting to the universal service. At present, universal service tariffs are about 12 percent higher than regular tariffs.