17 Apr 2013

Hefty power price hike in Tonga

8:36 pm on 17 April 2013

There's concern in Tonga that many people will struggle to pay their power bills after the country's sole energy provider put up the price of electricity by nearly 11 percent this week.

Tonga Power Limited says the increase is due to a continuing rise in the price of fuel.

The chairperson of the Civil Society Forum of Tonga, Drew Havea, says the flow-on effect from higher diesel prices has pushed up the cost of living across the board.

"Probably 90 percent of the people in Tonga are taking cold showers right now and we know once electricity goes up then everything else goes up, households under the poverty level, will definitely find this very difficult."

Drew Havea says the Maama Mai solar farm has reduced Tonga's annual diesel consumption by only about 4 percent since it opened last year.

The government has agreed to subsidise a small quantity of power used by Tonga Power electricity customers in response to the price increase.