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KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 — Energy supplier Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) will still be fined even after it rectifies the billing problem which led to a sudden spike in electricity bills for consumers, minister Yeo Bee Yin has said.
Speaking in an interview during 8TV’s Global Watch programme yesterday, Yeo said the high electricity bills problem was in most cases due to TNB’s technical problem in billing the customers.
“The Energy Commission has already given them (TNB) a warning letter, and instruction notice, they must resolve the problem within 30 days and all who complained must have fair treatment,” the minister of energy, science, technology, environment and climate change said in an excerpt of the interview that was made available on Global Watch’s official Facebook page.
Yeo said TNB had already violated the Energy Commission’s standard for service levels, and that the energy company would still be penalised even if they corrected their wrong.
“Even if you corrected your wrong, you did wrong, you will be fined,” she stressed in the interview conducted in Mandarin.
Yeo said the Energy Commission is currently doing an investigation to determine which provisions of the Electricity Supply Act to fine TNB under.
“Next week or the following week, we will announce the provisions for the fine and teach them a lesson,” she said.
She noted TNB’s status as being the sole company providing electricity here.
“Because TNB is actually the sole company, you want to buy electricity, if you are unhappy, you must still buy from it.
“So I told the Energy Commission, you must grow fangs, you must regulate, so although they will correct the wrong, but there will certainly be a fine,” she added.
She said the Energy Commission is expected to submit a full report of its investigation into the matter within the next two weeks.
In the same interview, Yeo was asked to comment on those in Melaka who felt that their smart meters were causing their electricity bills to go up.
But Yeo said the spike in billing problems was not only limited to Melaka, but throughout the country.
“Because the technical problem is not in the smart meters, of course some smart meters have different cases, but this bigger issue affecting everyone is not the meter problem. But of course some people is also because of the meter, but many cases is because of other technical problems,” she said, describing the cause to be technical issues in the billing.
When asked if those affected by the spike in electricity bills have to pay up first pending investigation and get a refund later or risk having their electricity supply cut, Yeo said she had already obtained confirmation that electricity supply won’t be cut especially for those affected this month.
“If you can afford, you can pay first, because actually the error is how they bill or some technical problem,” she said, explaining that those who pay first would get a rebate the following month.
Those who fail to get a rebate can still complain to the Energy Commission, she said.
The minister also answered some queries sent in by the programme’s viewers.
One of them claimed that TNB had dismissed his complaint of receiving a monthly electricity bill for RM800 when his regular bill was only RM200, even though he had not changed his lifestyle.
Yeo suggested the possibility of electricity theft, but said the consumer could mount a further complaint with the Energy Commission.
“Whether there was electricity theft or not, if you think TNB’s response is unfair and you feel that you as an energy consumer need to complain, you can complain to the Energy Commission, all information can be viewed on www.st.gov.my,” she said, noting that a microsite was launched a few days ago with the contact details of the Energy Commission in different states, and with other avenues of complaints listed such as via email.
“So we welcome all who feel they received unfair treatment from TNB and want to complain about TNB, but I hope people don’t treat the Energy Commission as TNB’s customer service.
“You have to first complain to TNB, and if you received unfair treatment at TNB, then only complain to the Energy Commission. Because TNB earns money, it has a responsibility to be responsible and fair to all who use electricity,” she said.