The cost of fuel and power in Palau is reaching an all-time high. The cheapest gasoline on the island is $6.55 per gallon and is expected to rise by at least 15 cents on Monday. The price of fuel in 2021 was $4.29 per gallon. Now the highest price on the island is over $7 per gallon in Babeldaob and outlying states.
Palau Public Utilities Corporation’s (PPUC) new rates effective July 1, 2022, are also going through the roof with the increase in fuel cost adjustment. Starting July 1st, residentials with 0-150 kWh usage will be paying 38.5 cents per kWh. For comparison, in December of 2021, residents with 0-150 kWh usage were paying 20 cents per kWh. In January 2022, that rose to 35 cents per kWh and with government subsidy, it went to 27 cents per kWh. In July this year, it will go up to 38.5 cents.
For residents with 151-500 kWh, the rate will go from 41.5 cents per kWh to 45.9 cents. For commercial and government, the rate will go from 46 cents per kWh to 50.4 cents beginning July 1st.
The increasing price of fuel not only affects utility costs but also all goods and services. The government appropriated subsidies to PPUC to subsidize the cost of fuel, 10 cents per kWh of AFPAC rate on up to 500kWh residential customers. There was also 200k appropriated to pay the full cost of the first 150 kWh of electricity and 5000 gallons of water and sewer per month for vulnerable households with a total household income of $20,000 or less or $6,000 per individual resident.
Still, customers are shocked to see their power and gas bills each month. “Used to cost me $40 dollars to fill my car and now it costs me $60 plus dollars,” a retiree residing in Babeldaob said, expressing his shock at such a drastic increase in prices. He said he will have to reduce his travel to Koror to once a week because he can no longer afford to make 2 trips a week.
The sentiment is echoed by literally everyone. It means more belt-tightening efforts and creativity to survive the skyrocketing expenses.