Electricity up by 25 cents

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Monday, December 23, 2013

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco) general manager Gerardo Versoza said a mere 25 cents per kilowatt hour increase await consumers by January.

Versoza said the increase lies in the taxes in generation charges the electric cooperative pays to purchase energy from the energy market.

"This translates to a 25 cent per kilowatt hour increase our consumers will see in the next billing cycle (January)," he said.

Versoza said the 25 centavo increase by Beneco cannot compare to the P4.15 per kilowatt hour the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) will impose on its consumers.

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) allowed Meralco to increase electricity rates by P4.15/kWh in three tranches from December 2013 to March 2014.

Meralco's rates were affected by the shutdown of the Malampaya Natural Gas a forcing the company to buy power from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) at a higher cost.

Versoza said the quarter of a peso increase will not be divided into tranches.

Today, Meralco faces protests as well as a case filed in Courts by several groups led by Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello, asking the Department of Justice to investigate the impending P4.15.kWh increase.

Versoza credits the minimal increase to a flexible power supply contract with supplier, Team Energy and a Beneco Trader who focuses on the best prices when monitoring the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM).

“At certain hours, prices are low at the WESEM, we have a trader who monitors this as we have to order [power] a day ahead,” Versoza revealed.

In the past, Versoza said the Luzon grid’s capacity for additional power is very small especially when one of the large plants back down resulting to rotating outages, fortifying the need to have additional sources of energy in a bid to bring down electricity rates once the electric cooperative produces their own energy.

If Beneco is successful in setting up a mini hydro plant there would be a lower the rate of electricity for the consumers here, with the cooperative buying less power from Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and the National Power Corporation.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on December 24, 2013.

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