WAM FNC SESSION2-1593528779090
FNC sessions have gone virtual since the coronavirus pandemic Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: Concerns over a purported rise in the cost of connecting residential properties to the electricity grid was raised at the Federal National Council on Tuesday.

FNC member Yousuf Abdullah Al Batran Al Shehhi asked the Minister of Energy, Suhail Al Mazrouei, about what he claims is a ‘300 per cent increase’ in charges of connecting residential properties to the electricity grid.

Al Shehi, a member from Ras Al Khaimah, said he has received many complaints from UAE citizens over social media and in person.

He demanded low-income citizens and beneficiaries of the Zayed Housing Programme be exempted from the grid connection charges.

Suhail Al Mazrouei

Minister Al Mazrouei told the House, before it goes into Summer recess ending in October, citizens now bear only 22 per cent of the cost of connection to the electricity grid, while the Federal Electricity and Water Authority, which manages the electricity and water supply of residents in the Northern Emirates, bears the remaining 78 per cent.

“In electricity tariff, citizens bear 26 per cent of the cost, FEWA 74 per cent, while in water, citizens bear 33 per cent and FEWA 67 per cent,” Al Mazrouei added.

The minister confirmed the UAE is among the world’s least grid connection, electricity and water charges.

The minister said, before 2016, Emiratis bore only 5 to 7 per cent of the grid connection cost, which he called “made no sense and unsustainable”.

Al Mazrouei, however, said he was open to allow paying the grid connection charges in installments.

FNC member criticizes FEWA for power cut off unnoticed

Ahmad Abdullah Al Shehhi, another member from Ras Al Khaimah, questioned the Minister of Energy, Suhail Al Mazrouei, about Emiraits’ complain over power being cut off, unnoticed.

“The Federal Electricity and Water Authority has repeatedly cut off power to citizens without warning, causing inconvenience particularly in Summer to patients, senior citizens and people of determination,” Al Shehhi said.

The Energy Minister said power cut off was prompted by illegal connections, power cables cut and overdue bills.

“Our duty is to connect not to cut off power to houses, so in the event of overdue bills, power is not cut off unless the overdue bills are accumulated and the debt has become huge,” Al Mazrouei said.

He added 97 per cent of citizens punctually pay their bills. “Customers are given three notifications, before the power is cut off. First is given 21 days after the bill is sent to the customer, the second is given four days later, while the third is given before the power is cut off. The Federal Electricity and Water Authority never cuts off power without warning,” Al Mazrouei said.

Al Mazrouei has recently ordered an immediate probe into FEWA’s procedures after an Emirati woman claimed her power supply was cut off without warning after the woman’s complaints were widely shared on social media.

In a video recording, the woman is seen parked outside the department’s offices in Ras Al Khaimah with her husband as she describes how the power supply at her property was cut off without warning.

The unknown resident, who said in the video she was 60 and lived with her 65-year-old husband, expressed dismay at being forced to leave her home for the first time in months due to the coronavirus pandemic to raise her concerns.

Al Mazrouei told the House, investigation showed FEWA had sent the bill and notifications to the customer.

“The customer failed to punctually pay the bills in noine out of the last 12 months,’ the minister said.

“FEWA had to cut off power in 554 cases out of 70,448 accounts or only one per cent of our clients,” he said.