LINGAYEN --- Sixth District Board Member Ranjit R. Shahani lashed out the officials of the Pangasinan III Electric Cooperative, Inc. (PANELCO) for an indiscriminate power rate increase without proper consultation with the consumers and declaring its “wrong decision unconstitutional.”
|Board Member Ranjit Shahani (center) and|
Pangasinan Governor Amado T. Espino.
In his 10-minute opening statement made during the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s Question Hour held last Monday, a fuming Shahani has described the generation charge increased a “dictatorial behavior and collusion” among the Panelco officials which according to him greatly affect the fixed-income consumers.
The question hour was attended by the PANELCO officials headed by Atty. Julius Cesar Peralta, chairman of board of directors and Engr. Celso Sansano, OIC General Manager of Pangasinan following the invitation of the board to the latter via Provincial Resolution No. 378-2014 to shed light on the power rate increase.
The resolution, authored by Shahani and BM Danny Uy, was passed in the wake of the reports that PANELCO III has increased its power rate by 50 percent, and has been considered as the highest power rate increase in Pangasinan.
“A decision to increase power rate without due process of public consultations is an insult to the anti-poverty programs of Gov. Espino and would shy away the possible investors here in the province,” Shahani told Panelco officials.
In defense, Atty. Peralta said that the power rate hike did not come from the PANELCO, and instead, it came from the Energy Regulation Commission (ERC) which imposed the increase and “it is against our will.”
“There was no public consultations made because the decision to a power rate increase came from the ERC,” “Kung ang desisyon po na magtaas ng power rate ay manggaling sa amin (Panelco III), iyon ang magkakaroon ng public consultation,” Peralta added.
He also argued that the increase of power rate was due to the sudden increased on power generation rate imposed by the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) and GN Power in Mariveles, the two power companies wherein the PANELCO is getting its power supply.
According to Peralta, the Panelco III, which is serving about 150,000 consumers from its 17 coverage town area has an average collection of P 8M a day or a more or less P176 million in a month.
But in December, he explained, the WESM has increased its generation cost thus, the PANELCO III has to passed it on to its consumers wherein they were charged of P10.26 per kilowatt-hour excluding other component charges. It was the highest power rate increase so far in 2013 while its lowest was at P3.02.
“The coop has no financial capability to shoulder the high electricity cost, Peralta argued. “Noong December, ang collection namin ay nasa P259 million pero ang babayaran namin sa aming dalawang supplier ay umabot ng P276 million. Umuutang pa kami ngayon,” he lamented.
The passing on the increased of power rate to the consumers was authorized by the ERC,” the board chairman said.
In his interpellation, BM Alfonso Bince, Jr. has asked the Panelco official on why they have to get its power generation outside the province when, in fact, it has two power plants - San Roque Multi-Purpose Power Corporation (SRMPC) and Sual Coal Fired Power Plant -that could supply the power demand of the whole province of Pangasinan.
“The Sual Coal-Fired Power Plant has even supplying the entire Luzon grid, so why we have to get from other power suppliers with a higher cost?.” Ano ang silbi ng dalawang plantang nito. Dapat nga mas mababa ang power rate natin dahil nandito sa Pangasinan ang malalaking planta,” Bince pointed out.
Peralta explained that the two power plants have been managed by the San Miguel Energy Corporation (SMEC), and at that time, the PANELCO III had already been bonded by a contract to the GN Power and WESM.
In collaboration with the explanation of Peralta, Engr. Allan Casim, chief of the Panelco III’s corporate service division, said the coop had its first contract with the SMEC in year 2011 and 2012.
“But when the coop made a request for the SMEC to extend its contract with us, hindi na nila kami na-accommodate dahil nai-contract na nila lahat ang power capacity ng SMEC.” Iyan po ang rason kung bakit wala tayong kontrata sa San Roque at Sual,” Engr. Casim said.
However, Peralta told that Panelco III is now considering to bid out its power demand to other suppliers as he expressed hope that SMEC will participate in the public bidding. “Hopefully, they would win the bidding para doon na tayo kukuha sa Sual o sa San Roque.
The board chairman has also assured its consumers of a lower generation charges in the first quarter of the year.