Negros Occidental

Negros Occidental’s June power rates drop by P3 per kilowatt-hour

Reymund Titong

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Negros Occidental’s June power rates drop by P3 per kilowatt-hour
The Negros Occidental Electric Cooperative announces that the power rate has decreased to P14.8, down from P17.9 per kilowatt-hour in May

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – Power consumers in Negros Occidental heaved a sigh of relief as the Negros Occidental Electric Cooperative (NOCECO) announced a P3- reduction per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in the power rate for June.

NOCECO announced on Tuesday, June 11, that the power rate has decreased to P14.8, down from P17.9 per kilowatt-hour in May.

Irene Viason, lead convenor of South Negros Power Advocates, told Rappler they welcomed the decrease in NOCECO’s power rates, considering it a relief after enduring two months of successive rate increases.

However, she pointed out that the announced decrease in power rates is only temporary since much of the electricity being distributed by NOCECO is sourced from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), where rates are unpredictable.

Viason suggested that NOCECO expedite its power supply agreement (PSA) application with Kepco Salcon before the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to reduce the cooperative’s exposure to the spot market.

Thousands of NOCECO’s power consumers staged a weekly protest rally in Hinigaran town due to the exorbitant rate increase by the cooperative.

Days after the rallies started, NOCECO implemented a “no disconnection initiative,” waiving all penalties incurred for May, Viason said.

Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) priest Melvin Fajardo said the previous increases in NOCECO’s power rates were unjust and further burdened consumers, especially the marginalized. 

He called on the government to take immediate action to address the power problem in the country, especially in Negros Occidental.

Fajardo urged NOCECO member-consumers to come together and assert their rights, and should not allow anyone to manipulate its operations. Manipulations, he said, could lead to setbacks and potentially lead to the takeover of NOCECO by interest groups.

NOCECO is currently managed by an executive committee appointed by the National Electrification Administration (NEA). Its general manager and board of directors were sacked.

Viason said she was worried about a likely increase in power rates if NOCECO continues to rely on electricity sources from WESM instead of pursuing other power generators.

She said she was also alarmed by the latest Monetary Policy Report, quoting the central bank on the high probability that the ERC will soon release an order authorizing the collection of P15.77 billion worth of power generation costs that may be passed on to consumers over the next three years.

This has been attributed to a Supreme Court decision in 2022 that overturned the ERC’s 2014 decision to cap WESM energy prices from November to December 2013, dealing with the increased electricity prices set by power generation companies during the maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya gas field. – Rappler.com

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