Bacolod City government has made an appeal before the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to immediately look into the increase in power rates in service areas under the Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco).
Mayor Evelio Leonardia also sought the help of ERC chairperson Agnes Devanadera regarding the damaged portion of the submarine cable of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) since June this year in Amlan town in Negros Oriental that consequently cut off the island’s power supply from Cebu.
Other electric cooperatives in Negros and Panay Islands were also forced to increase their power rates as well when a team from the Department of Public Works and Highways was said to have caused the damage on the NGCP cable while performing underwater drilling operations.
With the incident, the city mayor said transmission of power supply from Cebu to nine Negros and Panay-based electric cooperatives or distribution utilities (DUs) had also stopped, prompting the NGCP to activate its expensive-to-operate diesel-powered plants to cover the requirements of the cooperatives in the region which serve a total population of close to 8 million people.
He said that sourcing out supply via the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market to avoid massive outages resulted to the spiraling cost of power which the utility firms consequently passed on to consumers, further causing additional burden on the people, who have yet to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The exorbitant rate is reflected in their August 2021 billing, he added.
In the Ceneco service areas, comprising Bacolod City and five other adjacent local government units, for example, the rates were up from a low of P9++ to a whooping P30 per kilowatt-hour (kwh) since the damage on the submarine cable happened, coop executives explained.
Before the incident, the rate per kwh averaged only between P4 to P5++, they said.
Similar sentiments had been expressed by consumers from eight electric coops in Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, and Panay provinces, he noted.
It is for this reason, Leonardia further explained, that he wrote Devanadera regarding this pressing concern with high hopes that the ERC would be able to identify possible interventions that will result to the lowering of power rates to give some degree of relief to consumers.
He also hoped that the NGCP and the DPWH would be able to fix the damaged portion of the submarine cable the soonest time possible and not wait until January 2022 as indicated earlier so as not to further prolong the woes of the consuming public./WDJ