The Local Electric Department

image DSC05145.JPGElectricity is used extensively during the construction process for everything from pumping in water, powering electric tools and welding the roof truss beams together. This situation isn’t one where permanent electric can be set up – there often is no street address yet assigned, there is no house (yet) to inspect to allow for permanent electric and often times the nearest electric post is many meters away. What is done is to establish temporary electric service, which should generally be used for 6 months or less. In the case of the coolthaihouse prototype, electric was run from the front road which sits about 300 meters away. Applicants must apply and pay a 10,000 baht refundable deposit. Then your electricians can install the necessary wiring. After that an electric department technician comes out and inspects and if everything is up to stuff the meter is installed.

image dsc20053.jpgDuring the project, the electric has to be paid each month by a certain date, or the electric department will come out and cut the wires. No bill is sent. Once we had forgot to pay and were in the vicinity of the electric department and the wife went in to try to pay, but she hadn’t brought the account number. We were directed to the main office, where we went in the hopes that they could look up the account number. NO chance: if you lose the registration papers with the account number, I’m not sure what happens. The electric department apparently cannot do a lookup on the account number. I’ve also had the same experience with the permanent electric, the account cannot be paid unless you have the account number; no lookup can be made based on name or address.

Fast forward to the end of the project. We applied for permanent electric, which would move the house off of the temporary and on to the permanent post. Our electrician set everything up at the electric post in front of the house. Then a city electric person came and inspected this setup, disconnected the temporary electric and moved the meter to the permanent position. We then went to inquire about when the 10,000 bhat deposit would be refunded and we were told we would need to wait a while, probably a couple of weeks.

About 2 weeks after the permanent electric had been installed, the electric department came out and cut the wires (ie. disconnected it). So we headed off to the electric department to figure out what had happened. Why would they have disconnected the electric? On the new house electric the first bill wouldn’t arrive for another 2 weeks; on the temporary electric there was a 10,000 baht deposit.

My wife was doing the talking, except for me occasionally interjecting something into the conversation. Since I speak pretty fluent Thai I could understand everything that was being said. I followed right along with the wife’s flow of the conversation occasionally interjecting something. There were two separate accounts; one was a temporary account which had a 10,000 baht deposit and the other was a new fully paid account. If a bill was due on the temporary account, why wouldn’t they just deduct it from the 10,000 baht deposit? In any case, why would they cut our permanent house electric, since for sure there was no bill due on this account?

I’ll never forget the response from the electric worker. “Why are you talking about two different accounts? Maam, listening to you gives me a headache”. I mean, truly how rude an insulting can you be. She’s getting a headache! How about us, it was our electric that was cut for no reason. This went on for a while – trying to figure out why they had cut the electric. We went to talk to some other people at the side of the building. Here is what became clear: There was an amount due on the temporary electric and that *somehow triggered* the meter to be cut. As to figuring out why, both my wife and I already had *already gone to plan B*. Can we just get the electric hooked back up again? This is a much easier approach than trying to figure out why something had happened here, especially when dealing with government agencies. We have a problem, our house has no electric and we have money to pay any kind of bill which caused it to be turned off – is an easy equation to understand. Indeed, we paid the arrears on the temporary electric of 1,400 baht and the electric was reinstated a couple of hours later.

As far as the 10,000 baht deposit, yes it did finally get returned. It took about 6 weeks, which of course was longer than the 2 weeks I was initially told.

image dsc20052.jpgIf you’re wondering where the worst parking nightmare is in Thailand, you don’t have to look much further than the parking lot of the Banglamung electric department. Best to go by motorcycle, if possible.

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One Comment

  1. I plane to use a 1kw honda generator for my temporary supply rather than go through the hassle of a temporary supply. The cost is about the same and I have a reserve in case of power failure, which is common in the rainy season due to thunderstroms and lightning damage

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