STARTING this month of February, an increase of P0.2062 per kilowatt-hour for residential consumers’ bill will be imposed.

This after the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has approved the application of Central Negros Electric Cooperative Inc. (Ceneco) of its revised rate schedule with modification.

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Ceneco filed it last November 23, 2009 before the ERC national office, said Sulpicio C. Lagarde Jr. in a press statement.

“It had provisionally authorized Ceneco,” said Lagarde.

The approved increase will eventually result to a more efficient, quality and reliable service to the consuming public and will ensure their safety, said Lagarde.

“Since Ceneco will have more resources to cater to the financial requirements of maintaining its distribution lines,” added Lagarde.

The ERC ruled that in the event that the rate adjustment provisionally authorized is found to be excessive or insufficient after final evaluation, the amount corresponding to the difference shall accordingly be refunded or collected in a manner to be determined by the Commission, the statement said.

Also, Ceneco is directed to adopt the provisionally-approved Revised Rate Schedule to be implemented effective the January 2010 billing period onwards but since the provisional authority was received only on January 26, 2010, the revised rate schedule for the billing month of January 2010 was not timely implemented and is presently being processed for recovery on the forthcoming months.

In the statement, Lagarde said Ceneco published the Notice of Public Hearing in the newspapers of general circulation in the Philippines last January 27, 2010 as directed by the ERC and furnished copies of the application and the Notice of Public Hearing to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Committees on Energy of both Houses of Congress.

Likewise, the Office of the Governor of the Province of Negros Occidental and the Offices of the Mayors of the Cities and Municipalities within Ceneco’s franchise area were also furnished copies of the said documents for appropriate posting on their respective bulletin boards, said Lagarde.

He added that Ceneco, in its application, stressed the authority of the commission to establish a methodology for setting distribution wheeling rates as stipulated in Section 43(f) of Republic Act No. 9136, otherwise known as the “Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (Epira)” and Section 5 (a) Rule 15 of its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).

As early as 2006 and by virtue of said authority, the Commission embarked on a process to establish a new rate setting methodology for determining electric cooperatives’ (ECs) rates.

From 2006 to 2009, ERC conducted several public consultations with the industry stakeholders to discuss the details of the new regulatory framework for setting the EC’s wheeling rates.

Lagarde said Ceneco participated in the said public consultations and submitted the data and pertinent documents as required by the Commission for the purpose of implementing the RSEC-WR.

On May 26, 2009, the Ceneco board of directors passed a board resolution imploring upon the Commission to implement the new rate setting methodology embodied in RSEC-WR, said Lagarde.

Further he said on September 24, 2009, after another round of public consultations were held nationwide, particularly in the localities where the ECs operate, RSEC-WR was promulgated and published by the ERC. (GMD)