Lao Public Expresses Dissatisfaction With High Electricity Bills

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Electricity rate increase alarms Lao residents

Residents in Vientiane Capital have expressed their dissatisfaction with high electricity bills for the months of April, May, and June this year.

Despite agreeing to provide a three percent discount on electricity rates to residential consumers from May to July, state-run power company Electricite du Laos (EDL) has seen complaints flooding in by residents who say their bills are just too high.

The discount applies only to residential consumers and does not include value-added tax (VAT).

Many residents took to social media to air their complaints, posting photographs of their electricity bills to show the difference in price between the beginning of the year and the months of April, May, and June.

One resident of Vientiane Capital told the Laotian Times that she rents a room at Phonpapao Village, Sisattanak District, and is rarely home.

She regularly pays her electricity bill on time but was stunned by the high price of recent months.

“When I saw the electricity bill in May, I was alarmed because it was up to LAK 800,000,” she said.

Another resident in Vientiane said that his power bill would normally be around LAK 200,000 per month and he was shocked to see a bill charged at over LAK 900,000.

“When I made an inquiry with EDL, they stated that it was due to me using more power during the hot weather in April and May,” he said.

Restaurants and hotels have also seen higher bills than usual, despite many being closed during the lockdown period.

Electricite du Laos began rolling out smart meters for residence and businesses in Vientiane Capital in 2018. Smart meters are self-reading meters that send information about electricity use back to the power company automatically without requiring a human meter reader.

The use of smart meters is said to be more efficient and help protect the consumer from faulty or incorrect meter reads.

EDL installs smart meters in Vientiane Capital
EDL installs smart meters in Vientiane Capital.

But the high charges for electricity bills during the warmer months of April, May, and June remains an ongoing issue.

Residents aired their complaints about high electricity prices on social media in 2020 as high utility bills came at a time when many have been feeling the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

President Thongloun Sisoulith (then-Prime Minister) even stepped in to intervene when tariff increases took the public by surprise.

Meanwhile, Electricite du Laos has responded by announcing that it will place a greater focus on customer service, saying it will dismiss irresponsible employees or employees who behave in a way that is damaging to the reputation of the company.