Power utility company won’t pay P11-M billing

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014


A POWER utility company refused to pay P11 million of inexplicable payment billed to them by the Interim Mindanao Electricity Market (IMEM) to avoid passing the amount to its consumers in some areas in Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon.

During a press conference held in its office in Laguindingan Tuesday, Misamis Oriental-1 Rural Electric Service Cooperative (Moresco-1) in a statement said the company would find it difficult to pay the millions of pesos that IMEM billed them.

Chandler Villegas, technical working group member of IMEM but employed with Moresco-1, told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro Tuesday that if they added the P11 million billed to them by IMEM last January 22 this year (for December’s consumption), the power rate hike would reach P1 per Kilowatt hour (kWh).

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Villegas said the billing would directly affect the consumers because Moresco-1 is just a distribution utility.

“We are like collection agents—any increase from the power generating utilities will be passed on to the consumers,” Villegas said.

IMEM continued to bill Moresco-1, but it isn’t paying them yet because the company is waiting for the details of the unexplained millions worth of payables.

Marebec Cagalawan, corporate public relations officer of Moresco-1, said they did not order or purchase electricity from the IMEM.

She said it is just proper for Moresco-1 not to pay IMEM because the power utility does not owe them anything.

“We cannot afford to pay the bills—we need to pass it on to the consumers to do so. And the reason why we’re not paying IMEM is to avoid passing the bills to the consumers,” Cagalawan said.

Based on a document given to this paper by Moresco-1, IMEM billed the company P8.2-million, P11.03-million, P292,718 and P2.07-million for the months of January 8 and 22, February 6 and March 3 this year, respectively.

Not from IMEM

During the declaration of power shortage, Villegas said Moresco-1 forecasted well that the deficiency on supply would not exceed Moresco-1 contracts.

He said IMEM was designed to provide power during shortages.

He added there are two ways an electric distributor will acquire power supply from IMEM through the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).

First, Villegas said, is for the power distributor to nominate in IMEM and the other is when distributors (for instance, electric cooperatives like Moresco-1, among others) uses electricity beyond their contracts.

He said when a distributor’s consumption exceeds their contract it is automatically understood that the power source is taken from IMEM.

Villegas said during off-peak hours there was a deficiency but they have a reserve in NGCP so they did not take power from IMEM.

“We were wondering why the IMEM billed us,” Villegas said.

He added that all the power supply that went through their meter came from Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) based on the data from NGCP.

“Although we exceeded in our consumption but it was billed by PSALM and should not be billed by IMEM,” he added.

“Our demand did not exceed with the supply—during off-peak hours from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. we have a reserved power supply in NGCP. It is published on their website,” Villegas said.

He said that the billing they paid in PSALM coincides with their consumption.

“All supplies granted to us by NGCP coincide with the supply of the power generators. In our case the supply provided by NGCP is equal to the amount provided by PSALM,” Villegas said.

Villegas said Moresco-1 is giving IMEM the chance to explain why they were billed.

He added all the data from NGCP and PSALM imply that “we did not get power supplies from IMEM.”

In response to the unexplained billings, Moresco-1 made three dispute letters contesting the IMEM bills that were received by the Energy Regulatory Commission bearing the ERC Case No. 2014—003 MC.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 12, 2014.

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