Provincial coops also implemented rate hike

By Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 21 2014 06:07 PM | Updated as of Jan 22 2014 02:07 AM

MANILA, Philippines – It’s not only Meralco consumers who were affected by the spike in generation charges during the Malampaya shutdown in November and December 2013.

The Camarines Sur Electric Cooperative 2 (CASURECO 2), which covers Naga City and other several local government units registered a P6.74 per kilowatt hour (kwh) spike in generation charge for December.

But just like the Meralco hike, the hefty spike was also halted by the local court.

Aside from CASURECO 2, other cooperatives in Luzon which incurred big increases include the following: Panelco (Pangasinan) - P4.54/kwh, Tarelco 2 (Tarlac) - P4.29/kwh, Soreco 1 (Sorsogon) - P3.72/kwh, Iseco (Ilocos Sur) - P3.51/kwh, Batelec 1 (Batangas) - P3.22/kwh, Cagelco (Cagayan) - P2.99/kwh, Decorp (Dagupan) - P2.99/kwh, Penelco (Bataan) - P2.83/kwh, Luelco (La Union) - P2.48/kwh.

All Luzon cooperatives, with the exception of CASURECO 2, implemented the spike in the December bill.

National Electrification Administration Administrator Edita Bueno said that while the spike is difficult to consumers in the provinces, they have no choice but to pay since the coops have no buffer fund to cover for these enormous increases in generation charge.

According to Bueno, consumers in the meantime can manage their consumption so that they will have lower electricity bills.

The Energy Regulatory Commission said just in case the Supreme Court decides that the increase in prices at the spot market is a result of inefficiency and lack of foresight and therefore arbitrary, the cooperatives may be ordered to refund the amount through a reduction in their succeeding bills.

Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, meanwhile, said the situation now brings to focus the responsibility of the utility or cooperative to get optimal pricing from their suppliers so that consumers can be protected from staggering increases.

"Kahit pass through ‘yan, they have to make sure na optimal pricing ang kanilang supply for their customers," said Petilla.

In Meralco's case, generation charge for December went up tremendously due to its exposure in the spot market where prices soared to as high as P62/kwh during the Malampaya shutdown.

Meralco's exposure to the spot market went as high as 11 percent of its needed supply, that when computed contributed more to the overall generation charge increase than the effect of the Malampaya shutdown where their suppliers Sta. Rita, San Lorenzo and Ilijan plants used the more expensive liquid condensates and biodiesel.