Norman Harsono, Jakarta – Indonesian households have seen abnormal electricity bills for the third consecutive month, likely a result of the accumulation of monthly charges in state electricity firm PLN's new payment scheme.
Yan Kardian, an employee at a private company, reported on July 2 that his electricity bill rose 15 percent month-on-month to Rp 370,259 ($25.55) in July even though his consumption fell 20 percent to 242 kilowatt hours (KwH) over the same time period, according to a screenshot he posted on Twitter.
"How can consumption be so little yet the bill go up?" he wrote on his Twitter account @yankpoesh on July 2.
In a statement released on July 3, PLN acknowledged that the anomalies were a result of their new billing method.
The new method calculates monthly residential power bills based on consumption during the previous three months. For example, higher-than-usual energy consumption in April and May was billed in June.
"Very likely, these are leftover installments from unpaid bills the previous month," said PLN spokesman Agung Murdifi in a statement on July 3. "PLN will investigate the cases further," he added.
In June, 4.3 million post-paid residential customers saw bills 20 percent higher than in the previous month. PLN attributed this to higher electricity consumption as people stayed at home.
PLN then relaxed its billing policy for 1.93 million consumers who experienced a spike in their June bills. It charged 40 percent of the June bill in that month and opted to charge the remaining 60 percent over the next three months on top of the subsequent months' power bills.
Yan Kardian's screenshot of his bills shows that the bill from the previous month had been relaxed and that one third of the remaining sum was charged in the July bill.
However, PLN charged Yan more than 70 percent of his June bill in June, higher than PLN's promised 40 percent under the relaxation scheme, the screenshot shows.
PLN executives, government officials and the Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) have repeatedly refuted netizens' claims that the high bills were because PLN had secretly raised electricity tariffs.
"Consumers felt they were being cheated with a higher rate. There is no higher rate," said YLKI chairman Tulus Abadi in a video statement on June 7.