THE Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco) said it has not violated the advisories issued by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), particularly the suspension of the collection of some charges like Universal Charges-Environmental Charges (UC-EC) and the Feed-in-Tariff Allowance (FIT-ALL) during strict quarantine measures.
The cooperative, in a statement, said two advisories on the suspension of FIT-ALL were issued by the ERC on March 20 and April 15, respectively.
Ceneco said its billing period starts every 16th of the month. When the ERC released its March 20 advisory, it already started billing the consumers for March.
“Our billing system does not allow changes in the rates in the middle of the billing cycle as this would result in non-uniformity of rates charged to consumers for the same billing of the month,” it said.
It added that it was only able to implement the suspension of FIT-ALL charges during the next billings, in April and May, in compliance with the April 15 advisory extending the suspension.
The suspension of FIT-ALL charge of P0.0495 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for April and May billings has been favorable to consumers since power consumption during these billing months is high compared to March 2020 billing, the cooperative also said.
Meanwhile, on the ERC advisory on the suspension of UC-EC worth P0.0025 per kWh for the next billing month until further notice, Ceneco said it has implemented the same starting June this year.
“Ceneco would like to reiterate that it has not violated the ERC advisories on the suspension of the collection of UC-EC and FIT-ALL,” the utility said, adding that “all pertinent advisories have been fully and correctly implemented.”
It can be recalled that Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, has earlier called on the ERC to penalize distribution utilities (DUs) that failed to comply with the agency’s advisories and directives aimed at alleviating the financial difficulties of Filipino power consumers given strict quarantine measures.
Gatchalian, in a statement, said his committee received at least 204 complaints from 179 complainants. At least six distribution utilities have been found to be in violation of the ERC advisories including Ceneco, the senator added.
Ceneco caters to the largest number of electric consumers in the province including cities of Bacolod, Bago, Talisay and Silay, and towns of Murcia and Salvador Benedicto.
For its part, consumer group Power Watch Negros on Thursday said it is waiting for a copy of the order from the ERC directing DUs including power cooperatives to refund the "overcharged" amount to the consumers.
“If it confirms that Ceneco is included, the member-consumers can then demand their refund from the utility,” its secretary-general Wennie Sancho said.