On ERC Decision to Pass on P232-M to Ceneco Consumers: ‘Hold Congressional Hearing in Bacolod’

Consumer advocates urge the Committee on Energy of the House of Representatives to hold here in Bacolod City the proposed inquiry on the decision of the Energy Regulatory Commission authorizing the Central Negros Electric Cooperative to collect the P232 million differential billing from its consumers.

Fr. Chris Gonzales, head of the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Bacolod City, said that concerned consumers will prepare a manifesto requesting the lower house to hold the probe in Bacolod so that it will be easier for consumers to air their concerns.

Gonzales issued the statement yesterday at the Ceneco main office during the regular transparency meeting, an initiative of Ceneco president Roy Cordova to allow consumers and the media full access to information regarding Ceneco operations, particularly on the computation of power rates.

Last week, Bacolod Rep. Greg Gasataya said that he sponsored a resolution in Congress calling for the House Committee on Energy to conduct a probe, in aid of legislation, on the subject ERC decision.

Cordova welcomed the resolution, as well as the move of the Social Action Center.

“Instead of just the 24 MW contract of Ceneco with Kepco Salcon Power Corporation, you might as well include in the congressional inquiry the other power sales contract entered into by Ceneco with other power suppliers,” Cordova said.

He further suggested that, aside from Congressman Gasataya, the group should also seek the help of representatives of the third and fourth legislative districts, some areas of which fall within Ceneco’s coverage area, to hold the proposed inquiry in Bacolod.

Cordova assured consumers that, in the future power purchases of Ceneco, the procurement will go through a transparent competitive bidding process.

“No negotiation whatsoever. The suppliers should first present their proposals to Ceneco management, who will make their recommendation to the Board,” said Cordova.

Romeo Lavilla, an intervenor / oppositor when the petition for the collection of the P232 million was still being deliberated by ERC, said that he filed a motion for reconsideration of the decision. In his motion, he asked ERC to conduct a new hearing on the issue and to hold the hearing in Bacolod.

The Social Action Center has also filed earlier its motion for reconsideration on the decision.

Wennie Sancho, secretary general of Power Watch Negros, read his manifestation, asking ERC to declare the power sales contract between Ceneco and Kepco as null and void because it contains onerous provisions.

During its meeting last Tuesday, October 17, the Ceneco Board passed two resolutions related to the ERC decision.

The first resolution seeks clarification from ERC on the effectivity of the implementation of the decision, or exactly when Ceneco should start recovering the P0.0817 per KWh to the consumers for 50 months, or until the P232 million is fully paid.

The other resolution holds in abeyance or suspends the implementation of the ERC decision, pending the result of the clarification from ERC.

Ironically, while consumer advocates succeeded in temporarily holding off the collection of the P0.0817 / KWh authorized by the subject ERC decision, they were unable to halt the imposition of the P1.02 / KWh increase in the October bill.

Ceneco’s September power rate for residential consumers was P10.013 / kwh while the October is P11.028.

According to a press statement from Ceneco, the upward adjustment in can be attributed to the increase in the Generation Charge of P0.4728, Transmission Charge of P0.1412, and System Loss Charge of P0.0938.

Another contributory factor to the rate increase is the P0.2220/kWh recovery for the Generation Rate Adjustment Mechanism (GRAM) and Incremental Currency Exchange Rate Adjustment (ICERA) by Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management, as ordered by the Energy Regulatory Commission.*(Butch Bacaoco)