THE Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco) will push through with the collection of P232 million worth of additional charges from its member-consumers starting October 25, unless the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) will reverse its order.
Ceneco general manager Sulpicio Lagarde Jr., in a press conference at O Hotel in Bacolod City Wednesday, said that if there is no new decision favoring the motion for reconsideration (MR) filed by the Social Action Center (SAC), they have no choice but to follow the order.
“If the ERC says not to collect, we will also follow,” Lagarde said, adding that if the Commission orders them to return the collected charges “we have no choice but to refund the consumers.”
On September 14, Kepco-Salcon Power Corporation (KSPC) in a letter informed Ceneco of the ERC’s decision dated June 27, 2017, stating the confirmation and provisional approval of load-factor rate, monthly reconciliation, and the authority to collect the differential billing worth P232 million.
The order stated that Ceneco is directed to pay KSPC for the recovery of the unpaid unaccepted contract quantity of 24 megawatts (MW) from July 26, 2011 to November 25, 2013 which will result to about P0.8 per kilowatt hour (kWh) in rate increase.
It will be charged to electric consumers, both residential and commercial, for five months.
On October 4, SAC filed the MR opposing the ERC ruling on the supplemental agreement between Ceneco and KSPC.
Its legal counsel Vicente Petierre III claimed that the signatory of applicant Ceneco has no authority to sign the petition and failed to comply with the rule on certification of non-forum shopping.
The unnominated quantity or power supply sold by KSPC to Ceneco by way of a contract is grossly disadvantageous, hence should not be charged to the consumers, he added.
Lagarde said that if any opposition or motion for reconsideration was filed, “the ERC may have been enlightened and issued a different decision on the value-issue subjected to various series of hearings since 2013.”
“We are not happy that we are to implement it, but this is an order,” Lagarde said, adding that one downside of electricity rate increase is the surge of pilferage incidence.
Ceneco president Roy Cordova, who also spoke at the press conference, said that although the collection of additional charges starts on October 25, the October 16 reading will already be covered.
“Pending the decision of the ERC on the motion filed by SAC, the cooperative has to start the collection of additional charges or else we will be held liable,” Cordova reiterated.
During the press conference, Power Watch Negros secretary general Wennie Sancho read the group’s position paper which stated that “Ceneco overcontracted with KSPC in its purchase agreement.”
He said the demand forecast of Ceneco is usually over the roof and it has to pay the full amount for contracted supply even if electricity is not used.
“Unfortunately, we the member-consumers are the shock absorbers of this overcontracting,” Sancho said, adding that Power Watch declares that it is an injustice on the part of the consumers being made to pay for power they did not use.
Ceneco said there was no overcontracting on the power purchase it made with KSPC.
Engineer Leomel Tambanillo, Ceneco’s Corporate Planning Department manager, pointed out that since the 24 MW is within the intermediate load, it is expected that the cooperative would not be able to off-take all the minimum contracted energy.
“However, it should be emphasized that Ceneco never failed to utilize it in any billing month. Meaning, we have really made use of the power,” Tambanillo said.
The contracted capacity is within Ceneco’s power requirement, he added.
Published in the SunStar Bacolod newspaper on October 12, 2017.
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