TNB expects 7%-15% drop in this year’s electricity consumption

The company has seen a 30%-50% drop in electricity usage in the commercial sector during the MCO


TENAGA Nasional Bhd (TNB) expects a slump in electricity consumption between 7% and 15% as businesses and households continue to observe movement restrictions which affect average energy demand.

TNB president and CEO Datuk Seri Amir Hamzah Azizan said the company is still studying the overall impact of Covid-19 and the movement restriction to the whole electric consumption, but he expects the demand to slump compared to the same period last year.

“This estimation is still in its early stage. If the recovery in economic activity is better than expected, the demand for electricity will also pick up,” he told a media conference after visiting Kedai Tenaga in Shah Alam, Selangor yesterday.

Also present at the company’s first press briefing since the Movement Control Order (MCO) began in March was its newly appointed chairman Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid.

The MCO, which is the first ever movement restriction enforced in the country, came into force on March 18 in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The government imposed restrictions on all non-essential businesses from operating, with employees were also asked to work from home before deciding to ease the restriction through the Conditional MCO (CMCO) on May 4.

Although businesses are allowed to operate, reports suggest that many sectors are still struggling to restart due to cashflow issues, lack of customer movement due to worry over the virus spread and strict procedures that have to be implemented by business owners.

Amir Hamzah said during the MCO, TNB saw a 30%-50% drop in electricity usage in the commercial sector as many workers were working from home. He said the usage was seen shifted into domestic consumption as there was a spike in electricity usage between 20% and 30%.

“However, since the government started imposing the CMCO, we are seeing more usage from the industrial sector. So, if the recovery is stronger, then the (overall) drop will be lesser,” Amir Hamzah said, without responding to how the situation would affect the company’s earnings in 2020.

Currently, TNB serves 9.2 million accounts, of which 7.4 million accounts are registered under the residential area, while the remaining are in the commercial sector.

The company generated higher electricity sales for the year ended December 2019 (FY19), with its FY19 net profit rose 18.7% to RM4.45 billion from RM3.75 billion previously.

The increase was driven by higher electricity sales, which jumped 3.5% to RM49.02 billion from RM47.36 billion in 2018, equivalent to 123,252 gigawatt hours of electricity sold by the utility firm, 2.7% up year-on-year.

“We are still working through and trying to estimate what is the impact for the full year because the full effect of the economy is still being assessed,” Amir Hamzah added.

On the same development, Mahdzir reiterated that the spike in electricity bills during MCO is due to increased usage of electricity consumption following the stay-at-home order.

He said there were some consumers who used social media as a channel to state their confusion on the increase in electricity bills and questioned the adjustment methods used by TNB.

“Our children, too, did not attend schools, and this directly has caused the increase in the usage of electricity.

“There were also some who returned to their hometown during the school holidays and were stranded there.

“These also caused the usage of electricity at homes in the city to decrease, and the usage in their hometowns to increase,” Mahdzir said.

He explained that the utility company has been using the prorated method, which was reviewed and approved by the Energy Commission to ensure consumers do not get overcharged.

Since the MCO came into force, TNB — upon National Security Council’s instruction — had stopped meter reading at customers’ premises.

The meter reading services resumed on May 15 following the easing of restrictions via the CMCO.

Customers did not get actual bills. However, the bills were calculated based on estimates from previous bills.

Mahdzir said customers who need explanation or want to make adjustments on their bills can go to the nearest Kedai Tenaga, or call the TNB CareLine at 1-300-88-5454.

Mahdzir said so far, the main reason customers visit Kedai Tenaga branches is not only to enquire about the high electricity bills, but also to ask about the adjusted bills.

He said about 42% of them came to obtain a copy of their electricity bill, while 58% came to inquire on the TNB services such as bill payments, closing of accounts and on the adjustment of bills, among others.

On the same note, Mahdzir also announced that consumers can convert their bills during the MCO period from March to May into instalment payments until the end of this year.