Thursday, June 24, 2021

Senator wants refund from Veco

SunStar File

IF PROVEN that Visayan Electric (Veco) was charging its consumers high cost of electricity, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) should demand a refund from the power company, said Senator Sherwin Gatchalian.

“Kung mapapatunayan na hindi makatwiran ang singil ng Veco, dapat ibalik nila ang binayad ng mga kunsyumer. Mandato ng ERC na protektahan ang interes ng publiko lalo na kung may pang-aabuso ngang nagawa (If it will be proven that Veco committed a violation, it should refund the consumers. It is in the mandate of the ERC to protect the public's interest especially if there is really abuse),” Gatchalian said.

ERC probe:

1. On January 4, 2021, the ERC asked Veco to explain the high cost of electricity charged from January to October 2020.

2. Gatchalian said power purchases made from Cebu Private Power Corp. (CPPC) averaged at P35.3853 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), with generation rate spiking significantly high at P1,470.90 per kWh for the month of September last year. CPPC is owned by AboitizPower and Vivant.

IPPs power rates

3. CPPC is just one of the four independent power producers (IPP) supplying the energy requirements to Veco. The other three are suppliers and their power respective power costs from January to October 2020:

  • Green Core Geothermal Inc. (GCGI) at P5.5584 per kWh
  • Cebu Energy Development Corporation (CEDC) at P4.8922 per kWh
  • Therma Visayas Inc. (TVI) at P5.6821 per kWh77777
Complaints and violations

4. The ERC investigation stemmed from the complaint filed by the Cebu Chamber of Commerce Inc. last December, coursed through the Regional Development Council in Central Visayas, claiming that the high cost of electricity is proving to be a major stumbling block in boosting the business competitiveness of the region.

5. Section 23 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) specifying that distribution utilities (DUs), Veco included, have the obligation to supply electricity in the least cost manner to its captive market.

6. Section 45 (b) of the EPIRA provides: “no participant in the electricity industry or any other person may engage in any anti-competitive behavior including, but not limited to, cross-subsidization, price or market manipulation, or other unfair trade practices.”

Veco's assurance

Veco, in a statement said, "This concern has already been raised to the Energy Regulatory Commission, which has asked Visayan Electric to explain the points raised. We have already submitted our explanation to the commission and we await the ERC’s evaluation of our reply. We assure our customers that Visayan Electric is transparent in its dealings and processes and that the electric utility is committed to providing reasonably priced power in its franchise area. (JOB)


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