Sunday, October 24, 2021

NegOcc Solons Seek Inquiry On Power Rate Hike

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Lawmakers from all seven districts of Negros Occidental have sought an inquiry on the recent power rate hike imposed by electric cooperatives.

In a statement on Saturday, 3rd District Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez said he filed House Resolution 2206 to push for a congressional inquiry.

“We want to determine what is causing the increase in electricity rates and what we can do to minimize the cost on consumers,” he said.

In filing the resolution, Benitez was joined by 1st District Rep. Gerardo Valmayor Jr., 2nd District Rep. Leo Rafael Cueva, 4th District Rep. Juliet Marie Ferrer, 5th District Ma. Lourdes Arroyo, 6th District Rep. Genaro Alvarez Jr., and Bacolod City Lone District Rep. Greg Gasataya.

Three others from Iloilo, including Iloilo City Lone District Rep. Julienne Baronda, 2nd District Rep. Michael Gorriceta, and 3rd District Rep. Lorenz Defensor, also supported the resolution.

“We want to ease the financial burden of our constituents at a time when business and household income are affected because of the pandemic,” Benitez said.

Three of the five local government units under Benitez’s area of jurisdiction are covered by the Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco) – the cities of Talisay and Silay, and the municipality of Murcia – together with Bacolod City.

The power rate increase also prompted Mayor Evelio Leonardia to ask the Energy Regulatory Commission to conduct an investigation, and also for assistance regarding the damaged portion of the submarine cable of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) since June in Amlan, Negros Oriental that cut off the island’s power supply from Cebu.

The incident caused the transmission of power supply from Cebu to nine Negros and Panay-based electric cooperatives or distribution utilities to stop, prompting the NGCP to activate its expensive-to-operate diesel-powered plants to cover the requirements of the cooperatives in Western Visayas, Leonardia said in a statement on Friday.

He noted that the sourcing of power supply from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market to avoid massive outages has resulted in the spiraling cost of power, which the utility firms consequently passed on to consumers.

He said in the Ceneco service areas, for instance, the rates increased “from more than PHP9 to a whopping PHP30 per kilowatt-hour since the damage on the submarine cable happened,” citing the explanation of cooperative officials.

The Department of Public Works and Highways was said to have caused the damage on the NGCP cable while performing underwater drilling operations, he added.

Leonardia said he hopes “the NGCP and the DPWH will 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.” (PNA)

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