Power rates up

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Sunday, April 13, 2014


AN 81-CENTAVO increase per kilowatt hour will be charged on the April bill of consumers in Baguio and the rest of Benguet.

Benguet Electric Cooperative administrative officer Leo Belingon said the cost of purchase of power from generators increased this month as power suppliers shift from renewable sources of power such as hydroelectric plants to diesel-powered plants.

This means a consumer who consumes 200 kilowatt hours per month would likely pay an additional P162 in their April bill while consumers with 500 kilowatt hour consumption will pay an additional P405.

Belingon said they have been expecting the increase with several electric cooperatives in the country also announcing increases this month.

While Beneco’s sources of power remain stable, Belingon said majority of power generators, including hydroelectric plants with low reserves, turn to diesel power plants. These plants are highly dependent on the prices of fuel, he said.

The electric cooperative currently sources its power supply from its provider Team Energy, La Union, Hedcor and the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) and their rates are computed and reflected as “generation charge”.

Earlier, Beneco pacified concerns of power shortages in April and May but expected an increase in generation charge this summer.

Beneco legal counsel Delmar Cariño in an earlier interview also said increases are caused by generation charges increase at power generation plants; due to foreign exchange rate fluctuation due to imports of equipment and materials by the distribution utility; prices in the wholesale electricity spot market would increase as these are factors that are being considered when computing the generation cost.

Beneco consumers currently consume 60 to 70 megawatts of power per month and serve some 130,000 clients.

“The generation charges are always going up and down but we assure that this will not be resulting in rates that will be a burden to the consumer,” Cariño added.

The power utility also emphasized increases in generation costs are strictly monitored and regulated by the Energy Regulatory Commission and operations are regularly audited by the National Electrification Administration.

A comparison shows Beneco has the lowest rate per kilowatt hour in the Cordillera region at around P8 per kilowatt hour compared to other power utility firms with rates ranging from P9 to P11 per kilowatt hour.

The Department of Energy in a statement said power supply in Luzon will remain tight despite the opening of one power plant.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on April 14, 2014.

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