On power rate hikes

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By Dennis Limlingan

The Advocate

Thursday, January 23, 2014


HERE'S another reason for the ordinary people to woe anew in addition to the already being-experienced economic burdens: the looming power rate hikes.

National Electrification Administration (NEA) Administrator Edita Bueno has announced that electric cooperatives in Luzon will have to increase the rates of the electricity they distribute to their consumers as a result of the increased generation charges of power producers in various parts of the country.

The pass-on rate is an additional burden to consumers as they may have to shell out extra payments for their electric bills that is being charged by electric distribution utilities such as electric companies and electric cooperatives.

For Luzon, there are 12 electric cooperatives that are passing P2 to P6 per kilowatt hour generation charges to their consumers as they have no other recourse except to impose the amount being charged by power generators to them.

It can be recalled that since last year when Meralco has imposed their power rate hike, many residents in Metro Manila complained of high power rate that some even staged protests against increase.

Militant groups even alleged collusion between the Meralco, the power generators and other firms in the electric power industry in name of profit.

The jacking up of prices of electricity in Metro Manila even caused the filing of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) before the Supreme Court that gave a temporary halt to the rate hike.

Meanwhile, electric cooperatives and companies, not covered by the TRO have increased their respective rates while saying the maintenance shutdown of their power suppliers as their reason.

The shutdown of power generators which supplies electricity to electric distribution firms has compelled the latter to buy electricity from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) that charges higher electricity rates.

While consumers cannot really blame electric power companies and cooperatives from imposing higher rates, they cannot do anything except to swallow another bitter pill in their meager budgets in their day-to-day living.

If electric power companies and cooperatives would not impose pass-on rates, they would have to shut down their operations too since these firms also buy electricity from their source electric power generators.

A major effect of these electric power rate hikes that is detrimental to the economy and to people is the fact that the high cost of electricity shoos away investors from pouring in their money in the country.

Of course they would be discouraged to invest in a country where the cost of electricity is high as it is an added burden to their businesses.

Electric power distributors are classified as utilities and that the public depends on them so much. With the recent spate of electric power rates hike and looming energy crisis, the government should now step in to protect the interest of the consuming public.

If electric power distributors cannot really find any other solutions and are pushed against the wall, the government should somehow provide subsidies or assistance to the affected electric companies and cooperatives in order to abate the rising cost of electricity.

Since electricity was put to good use and man has discovered its benefits, we became dependent on it. In fact, many of us now cannot live without having the convenience of electricity.

Industries, commercial establishments and even agriculture now rely much in electricity now that it is becoming a high-priced commodity.

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For any comments, ideas, suggestions or opinions, text or call The Advocate at 09213636360 or send email at dencious@yahoo.com.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on January 24, 2014.

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