Negros Occidental

Negrosanon power consumers urge BBM, ERC to address ‘exorbitant’ electric rates of NOCECO

Reymund Titong

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Negrosanon power consumers urge BBM, ERC to address ‘exorbitant’ electric rates of NOCECO

PROTEST. Power consumers in southern Negros Occidental express their disapproval with the soaring electric rate on Saturday, June 1, in Hinigaran town.

Reymund Titong/Rappler

Power consumers stage a protest to urge the president and the Energy Regulatory Commission to address the power rates of the Negros Occidental Electric Cooperative

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – Negros Occidental power consumers staged a protest rally in Hinigaran town here on Saturday, June 1, urging Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to address the “exorbitant” power rates of the Negros Occidental Electric Cooperative (NOCECO).

According to Irene Viason, former NOCECO ethics committee member and lead convenor of South Negros Power Advocates (SNPA), at least 1,000 people attended the rally.

The rally comes after two successive power rate increases of NOCECO on the power consumers within its coverage area.

Hinigaran town mayor Nadie Arceo told local reporters on Saturday the protest rally, followed by a unity walk, was a testament to the people of his town, who were not afraid to speak up.

He said that as the father of the town, he must listen and help address the “plight of my constituents even standing up alone among other political leaders in the province.”

For Arceo, the executive committee currently managing NOCECO, appointed by the National Electrification Administration (NEA), failed its mandate to operate the cooperative smoothly and protect the interest of its member-consumer-owners (MCOs). 

Meanwhile, Viason told Rappler on Saturday that NOCECO’s power rates have impacted thousands of MCOs within its coverage areas – from central to southern-most part of the province – and is an issue the government, particularly President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and the ERC, should promptly address.

Viason also called the Senate and the Lower House to an immediate inquiry, in aid of legislation, to address the “illegal takeover of the NEA” of the cooperative, by removing “a competent general manager” along with the cooperative’s board of directors (BOD).

“After the takeover, the executive committee appointed by NEA took control of the cooperative. Unfortunately, they mismanaged it by failing to stabilize the power rates by not expediting the power contract agreement with a Cebu-based power supplier, Kepco Selcon. Instead, they opted to secure power supplies from the spot market, which ended up being costly and led to high power charges,” Vinson said.

Meanwhile, Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) priest Father Numeriano Maquiran said the current power issue in the region is “no longer a life with prosperity,” as he emphasized the Negrosanons’ “inability to afford necessities like food due to the overwhelming electricity bills is a stark reality that needs urgent attention.”

“I encourage my fellow clergy with their pastors and independent churches, including my brothers and sisters from the Catholic Church, to speak for the people. Let’s rattle the doors of the government to prioritize the public interest,” he said.

Earlier, Jocelyn Grace Garcia, NOCECO’s communication and customer service manager, said the rising cost of electricity was a result of the increase in one of the power suppliers’ generation charges, and it would be unfair to blame the cooperative for it.

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Based on data presented by NOCECO, its rate increased to P17.9605 per kWh in May from P14.6309 the previous month. Overall, the cooperative’s electricity rates have increased significantly by P9.4183 per kWh since 2020. With this, NOCECO topped the list with the highest power rate among other electric cooperatives in Western Visayas.

Some power consumers also warned of widespread social unrest if the government failed to intervene with the soaring electric rates in Negros Occidental. –

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