THE Economic Development Committee (EDC) has urged the Regional Development Council 7 to request national government agencies to act on the issues raised by the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) on the high cost of power as a major hurdle in business competitiveness.

EDC chairman Virgilio Espeleta, citing the latest data from the CCCI, said Cebu’s power rate is the most expensive in the country.

In his presentation, Espeleta said, “The 2020 average residential power rate brings to light that Visayan Electric Company’s rate ranks first in the Philippines.”

The EDC also wants the Regional Development Council (RDC) 7 to request Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (Opav) Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino to hold a dialogue with business organizations and Visayan Electric, so they can come up with a collaborative plan to reduce the power cost in the Visayan Electric’s franchise area in a sustained manner.

Based on the chart presented in the RDC 7’s fourth full council meeting on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020, Visayan Electric has a rate per kilowatt-hour for residential consumption at P11.04.

Iligan Light and Power Inc. in Mindanao has a rate of P11.01; Central Negros Electric Cooperative, P10.70; Panay Electric Company Inc., P10.36; Olongapo Electricity Distribution Company Inc., P10.04; Davao Light and Power Company, P8.92; Subic Enerzone Corp., P8.90; and La Union Electric Company Inc., P8.74.

The rate set by Manila Electric Company per 400 kilowatt-hour is at P9.44, and its rate per 200 kilowatt hour is at P8.85.

The data collected by CCCI came from websites or social media pages of the distribution utilities.

Espleta, in his presentation, wants an explanation from Visayan Electric.

“We really want answers. We want transparency,” he said.

Visayan Electric president and chief operating officer Raul Lucero said the company will answer the concerns raised by the business sector.

“Visayan Electric will continue to answer the queries of the business sector as we have done in the past. We are committed to make all sectors understand how the electric distribution industry works,” he said in a statement.

Asking for review

The EDC urged the Regional Development Council 7 to ask the Anti-Red Tape Authority to compel the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to answer the letters of the Cebu business community and shed light on the issues it raised, and to ask the ERC to review the competitiveness of power rates of all distribution utilities in Central Visayas including Visayan Electric, Cebu Electric Cooperative and Mactan Electric Company.

The committee also requested the Philippine Competition Commission to check the potential violation of Visayan Electric on the Electric Power Industry Reform Act such as in relation to excessive purchases with affiliate or related generation companies.

Another set of proposals was for the RDC 7 to ask the ERC to review the issues raised by CCCI and present alternative sources of generation companies, and to ask Visayan Electric to be transparent on the buying and pricing formula, divulge contracts, practice competitive bidding and include the participation of non-affiliated generation companies.

The EDC also proposed to the Regional Development Council 7 to direct the National Economic and Development Authority 7 and/or Department of Trade and Industry 7 to regularly post dashboards of comparative power prices of Central Visayas cities versus other cities.

The proposals for the RDC 7 were approved for endorsement, but actions have been put on hold pending the outcome of the Opav dialogue with business organizations and Visayan Electric. (JOB)