Benitez, Ferrer call on ERC to act swiftly to bring power rates down 

Acting Negros Occidental Gov. Jeffrey Ferrer and Bacolod City Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (l-r)*

Bacolod Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez and Negros Occidental Acting Governor Jeffery Ferrer are calling on the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to take swift action to bring down Central   Negros Electric Cooperative’s (CENECO) power rates. 

Benitez and Ferrer, in separate letters to ERC chairperson and CEO Monalisa Dimalanta, asked her to act on CENECO’s Motion for Issuance of Provisional Authority to implement its Power Supply Agreement (PSA) with the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) in order to bring down power rates. 

CENECO electricity rates could go down    by 30 to 40 percent in June if the ERC issues the provisional authority, CENECO acting general manager Arnel Lapore said earlier. 

CENECO has a 20 megawatts 10-year supply contract with EDC at P5.56 per kilowatt hour without Value Added Tax (VAT), which it can avail of if ERC grants the coop’s request for a provisional authority,   he said.  

If CENECO can begin availing of the 20 megawatts from EDC it will not   have to buy power from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market, which prices are at about P12 to 16 per kilowatt hour, Lapore said. 

Benitez, on Wednesday, said he has heard Bacolodnons concerns about the exorbitant electricity bills this month. 

“That is why I have sent a letter to the ERC asking why they have not acted urgently on the joint petition between CENECO and EDC, which may have prevented the sudden rise in electricity bills in the city”, he said. 

Benitez in his letter to Dimalanta informed her of the strong clamor of consumers in Bacolod City regarding the high power rates of CENECO. 

“It is of my understanding that one of the major reasons attributed to the increase of power rates is the inaction of ERC on the joint petition filed by CENECO and EDC, last March 15,” he told Dimalanta. 

 Given that more than 60 days have passed since the filing of this petition clearly shows that ERC has not acted in a timely manner, which has resulted to the intolerable increase in power rates, he said. 

“Considering the extreme urgency of the situation, we beg the indulgence of the ERC to favorably act on the said joint petition expeditiously,” Benitez added. 

Ferrer, in his letter to Dimalanta, said issuing the Provisional Authority is crucial given the current power rate  situation. 

“The provincial government of Negros Occidental underscores the urgency of this matter. We trust that the Commission recognizes the significant impact of this decision and will act favorably on CENECO’s Motion for Issuance of Provisional Authority,” Ferrer said. 

Benitez also said he “understands that the ERC has temporarily suspended the operation of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market under the declaration of red alert of the systems operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, and that we can expect for power prices to lower down as the rate freezes are implemented”. 

However, he said it should have been implemented earlier to help consumers in Bacolod City suffering from exorbitant electricity bill.* 

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