Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Electric coop asked to explain huge power rate hike

Lingayen- - -Officials of the electric cooperative serving eastern Pangasinan were called by the Sanguniang Panlalawigan last Monday to explain the reasons behind a jump in its power rates by P5.64 per kilowatt/hour last December.
This was an offshoot of the much-publicized power rate increase effected by the PANELCO III to its more or less 150,000 consumers in 17 towns and the city of Urdaneta.
Sixth District Board Member Ranjit R. Shahani requested the said electric cooperative to submit before the legislative body documents to substantiate/validate the hike.
In the second question hour held January 27 during the regular session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, officials of the PANELCO III headed by Atty. Julius Cesar Peralta, Chairman of the Board of Directors, were questioned on the rate increase.
Power generators San Roque Power Plant and Sual Coal Fired Plant were also  invited to help the coop shed light on the “unannounced power hike” which was seen as the highest power rate increase in Pangasinan.
After heated arguments, BM Shahani requested PANELCO III to provide the SP needed documents to include the power supply agreement and resolution on automatic passing on to consumers the increased rate without public hearings.
Shahani further stated that a possible meeting with WESM (Wholesale Electricity Spot Market) can also be of help to shed light on the matter.
Peralta, on the other hand, reiterated that the power rate hike did not come from  the PANECO but a result of the electric cooperatives “exposure to the WESM.”
He stated that it was passed on to the member-consumers because it is a rate increase authorized by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).
The PANELCO BOD chair also said that the cooperative is not hiding anything.
 “Anyone can come and ask. May by-laws na umiiral,” Peralta stressed.
Meanwhile, Vice Governor Jose Ferdinand Z. Calimlim, Jr. stated that the SP is a perfect venue for the electric cooperative to explain their side.
 “We are talking about public interest here. Both your cooperative and this august body share the same resolve to serve the public. Let us work together on this,” he stressed as he urged the officials of PANELCO III to grab the opportunity given to them and clearly explain to the public the reason of such hike.
The electric cooperative’s rate for residential consumers shot up from P9.80 per kilowatt hour (kWh) to P15.40 per kWh last December when its power generation cost increased to P5.6384 per kWh. The generation costs of all utilities are passed on to their customers.
Panelco III serves 17 towns in the 5th and 6th districts and also Urdaneta City.
Other electric cooperatives like the Dagupan Electric Corporation (DECORP) likewise collected an increase last November at P2.98. From said hike, P1.98 was collected in January 2014 bill while the remaining P0.98 was deferred to the consumer’s bill for February.
PANELCO III will effect a P4 to P5 rollback on February as stated by Atty. Peralta.
“We will abide by the decision of the Supreme Court,” Peralta said.

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