Hong Kong people can look forward to cheaper power bills in 2024, with charges falling by 16 percent on Hong Kong Island and 7.4 percent in Kowloon and the New Territories.
The city's two electricity companies, Hongkong Electric and CLP, said a drop in fuel prices is offsetting the increase in the basic charge for each unit of electricity people use, resulting in a lower net tariff compared with January this year.
Hongkong Electric said the basic tariff would rise by 4.4 percent to 119.5 cents per unit of electricity, while CLP – which covers Kowloon, the New Territories and most outlying islands – is raising its basic tariff by 3.1 percent to 96.6 cents.
"Compared to other major cities in the world, CLP's tariff is quite competitive," its managing director Joseph Law said. "The average basic tariff of CLP has been frozen at the same level over the past three years. With inflation and other factors, we have only adjusted slightly the power tariff this time around."
Francis Cheng, managing director of Hongkong Electric, said energy prices would still fluctuate. "We have since a drop of fuel prices, but we are still seeing a high level of fuel prices, also we are seeing geopolitical tensions. In the coming year, there will be volatility in terms of fuel prices I believe."
Meanwhile, the government and the two power firms agreed to set up a penalty system in case of large-scale power outages.
The new mechanism will take into account the number of affected customers and how long each is affected.
For example, a power disruption with a combined 15 million minutes will cost CLP around HK$20 million. Hongkong Electric will have to pay the same amount for an outage that lasted for 10 million minutes.
Environment secretary Tse Chin-wan told reporters a fire that broke out on a CLP power cable bridge in Yuen Long last year would have resulted in a penalty, but not a blackout on parts of Hong Kong Island earlier this year.
"Because most of the customers, the interruption affected was relatively very short, in terms of the duration. Therefore, it would not trigger this new penalty mechanism. However, for that particular case, our concern is whether there is human error involved causing that interruption," he said.
Tse also said the two power firms have agreed to subsidise needy households should an energy crisis spark a surge in their power bills, as part of the mid-term review of the firms' operating agreements with the administration.
But there was no consensus on a government proposal to lower their maximum profit levels.
Last updated: 2023-11-28 HKT 22:01