FOR Bacolod City Councilor Wilson Gamboa, the orders of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) are hard-earned wins for the consumers of Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco).

Gamboa made the statement after the ERC ordered Ceneco to comply with ERC rules on Power Supply Agreements (PSA) with Kepco-Salcon Power Corp. (KSPC) extension and for the Philippine Electricity Spot Market Corporation (PEMC) to refund the congestion charges and other applicable charges previously collected from consumers in Negros and Panay.

Gamboa said that upon evaluation of the KSPC-PSA extension,the ERC found that Ceneco has imposed unauthorized generation rates, which included two power sales contracts that expired on May 30, 2021.

He said as early as June of 2021, he called for a refund of the hefty differential amount caused by the recent extension of the KSPC-PSA at a reduced capacity of 20 megawatts from a 40-megawatt power contract.

He added the ERC noted that subject KSPC-PSA extension remained unapproved, therefore considered “ineligible contracts,” that needed to comply with the Competitive Selection Process (CSP) prescribed by the Department of Energy (DOE).

Gamboa claimed that Ceneco failed to implement the winning bidder’s price of P3.29 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) after said price passed the CSP, and insisted on extending PSA at P5.42 per kWh with KSPC for one year, starting May 26, 2021, estimated to be P367.7 million for one year or P1 million a day burden for Ceneco consumers, of which this price differential must be refunded.

On October 20, Gamboa filed a resolution urging Ceneco to account and settle through a refund of said differential amount caused by the KSPC-PSA extension and the congestion charges, among others, attributable to the damaged submarine cable of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).

Gamboa said he was astoundingly shocked upon knowing that Ceneco charged a National Power Corporation (NPC) Time of Use (TOU) rate of P3.52 per kWh.

“All along the Bacolod consumers were made to understand that under the KSPC-PSA extension, a P5.42 per kWh will be charged for one year,” he said.

Gamboa added that even then, the TOU rate of P3.52 per kWh is still higher than the approved CSP rate of P3.29 per kWh which is still shortchanging the Bacolod consumers therefore to an estimated P40 million but a savings of more than P300 million at the ineligible contract price of P5.42 per kWh.

The councilor said this is the “fruits” of Ceneco consumer groups’ long period of struggles that likewise prodded him to file proposed resolutions which were accepted by the Sangguniang Panlungsod Committee on Energy and Public Utility and joining various groups in street protests.

Ceneco officials earlier argued that there was never an “overpricing” in the extended contract as all the rates are approved by the ERC.

Its president Jojit Yap had explained that they opted to push through with the extended contract with KSPC because it will already expire pending the decision of the DOE on the query of another consumer group Konsyumer-Negros.

She pointed out that the cooperative cannot just rely on the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market or Wesm as the cost of power there goes up and down.